Focus forward: what will leaders face in 2023?

In a world filled with uncertainty and dizzying change, leaders have struggled and coped in equal measure with hybrid working, mental health, the cost of employee turnover and quiet quitting, to name just a few. 

Looking forward, and learning from 2022, what pain points will leaders face this year and how may they overcome them?

Values-driven leadership

Workplace trends such as the great resignation and quiet quitting have brought the need for a stronger and more ethical leadership focus. Toxic work environments and win-at-any-cost leadership styles will no longer attract top talent and, when publicly exposed, will also drive away customers. 

New research on emerging global companies supports the idea that high-performance organizations require leaders to create visions that reach beyond the bottom line. This idea, in turn, leads to values-driven leadership; a term that implies a conscious commitment by leaders at all levels to create a corporate culture that optimizes financial performance, ethical practice, social contribution and environmental impact. 

Jenny Hinde, executive director of The Clear Company, a diversity consultancy firm, warns that businesses that lack diversity risk alienating existing staff and missing out on new talent. 

She argues, “Organizations providing services to other businesses are being asked to evidence their capability in the diversity and inclusion space as part of the procurement process. If you are unable to attract, recruit or retain diverse talent, you are not a sustainable business and therefore investors will be deterred, regardless of the market you work in.” 

Leaders who can define and live by a clear set of values will inspire confidence in employees, stakeholders and consumers. 

Leadership in a hybrid world

Leaders have faced the challenges of shifting from in-person workplaces to remote-only to something in between. One survey found that 87% of people want to work from home at least one day of the week, and only 8% of remote employees are willing to return to in-person work full time. Balancing the needs of the business with workers’ preferences has created the need for new approaches to management with a particular focus on sustaining connections. 

Colin Hunter, CEO of PotentialSquared says: “My good friend Chad Littlefield spends time focused on what he calls: Connection before Content. In the hybrid world, leaders struggle to do a few things. The first is to find the rhythm of connection with team members who choose different days and patterns of office vs. remote work. Finding those common times to be in the same place is crucial. The second element that is essential once that rhythm has been set is to find the right connection, habits and practices in the face-to-face connections.” 

“Here at PotentialSquared we have taken the decision that face-to-face sessions will be about connection, not content. Our most recent two-day team day was dedicated to learning more about each other. Any agenda item not about connection but more about content was completed virtually. The results were deep and meaningful for the whole team.” 

“Think about changing the questions you use to connect. Rather than ask, how was your break or holiday? ask, what was a small and meaningful thing that happened to you on your break?” 

The best leaders will develop new ways to create engagement, build teams and improve productivity in the hybrid workplace. 

Prioritizing employee mental health and wellness 

Employers will see an increased need to focus on Mental Health and Wellness in the workplace. The World Health Organization estimates that anxiety and depression cost the global economy upwards of $1 trillion annually. Chronic workplace stress and burnout have been major drivers of the great resignation, causing higher turnover rates, increased sick days, and ultimately lost productivity. In 2023 leaders should focus on creating a workplace culture supporting mental health and wellness. 

David Rock co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute says much of 2023 may lead us to really focus on how we can take care of employees better: “For years, many leaders viewed their roles as shepherds of better business outcomes: better revenues, more profits, more growth. 

“But with the likes of the U.S. Surgeon General’s report in October 2022 warning that toxic workplaces are harmful to people’s mental and physical health, leaders will need to take a more proactive approach to employee well-being. No longer will it be enough for companies to reimburse gym memberships, offer access to financial advisors or encourage the use of mindfulness apps. Now, organizations are also responsible for taking care of the physical and mental well-being of their employees.”

Investing in Leadership development

Leadership is the most significant leverage point to make improvements throughout an organization. The challenges of today’s workplace are complex and require leaders to embrace learning new skills and adapting to a rapidly changing business landscape. As baby boomers retire at increasing rates and the workplace continues to evolve, the next generation will need to develop their leadership skills. 

Organizations focusing on continuous development and learning systems for their employees will enjoy greater employee retention and engagement and be better prepared for an uncertain economic environment. 

Stephen Moreton, Head of Partnerships at PotentialSquared concludes: “Many organizations are looking at leadership as a way of being, rather than a position to attain. If we take the view that we can lead from within a team, rather than only if we are the designated leader of the team – it enables us to contribute more, collaborate, take, share ownership and we give ourselves a chance to learn and grow.” 

“Organizational coaching, learning and leadership programmes can contribute to this growth, complimenting a powerful strategic vision.”

“Organizations that can enable that learning mindset towards leadership development are more likely themselves to be in a position where connection and sharing information is widely experienced. This will, in turn, contribute to developing future generations of leaders and create a much more enjoyable place to work – which as we know is of growing importance to employees.”

Speak to the team to discover how PotentialSquared could help your business.