2024 Leadership Challenges: Thriving in the Face of Change

2023 was quite a ride. Remote work in theory had become a routine. Yet some returned to the office. Some returned for 3 days a week.  Some returned for 5 days a week whether they liked it or not.  AI made big strides and raised red flags for businesses, regulators and tough questions for governments.  Leaders were challenged to get to grips with AI and all of the impact – known and unknown – it would have on them and their teams.  Uncertainty in the markets for 2023 and 2024 loomed large.

Ups and downs. Change and uncertainty. But out of the challenge, we are told, comes wisdom. As 2024 takes shape, we can learn from the past year’s twists and turns. Looking forward, what can we learn about how strong our systems of leadership are and all the supporting habits? How can we strengthen those systems?  The lessons on what habits did and didn’t work in 2023 will shine a light on what we need in leaders going forward. Especially when it comes to guiding teams through rapid change. 

The leaders best equipped to steer their organizations in 2024 will know how to manage fear and anxiety in the workplace. They are the ones who can guide teams through turbulence with compassion and steely resolve. Who help organizations stay flexible while keeping the red thread of their values strong in everything they do.

So, what does it take to thrive as a leader in 2024? 

In the ever-evolving landscape of business and organizations, the role of a leader is akin to that of a captain steering a ship through uncharted waters. As we set sail into 2024, leaders find themselves facing a dynamic and rapidly changing world. The challenges of leadership have never been more complex or demanding, and leaders must prepare themselves for the unique obstacles that lie ahead.

Here are a few challenges Colin Hunter, PotentialSquared CEO expects leaders will be facing in 2024.

Finding an effective ‘performance management’ rhythm and practice

Performance management as a practice has been shifting with many organizations removing objective setting and the annual objective setting process. It does leave a gap in how people are clear about their roles. How do they achieve clarity? How do they course correct? How are they supported through coaching? There is a shift to the language of accountability and compassion. How do leaders get this balance right in working with their teams? Especially as we work in an increasingly shifting world with volatility.

Hybrid working and managing connection in teams

How to manage stay-at-home versus back-to-the-office is probably the number one challenge facing organizations. Even if organizations are going for pure remote working, the evidence is that the lack of ‘connection’ for employees and teams is leading to issues in engagement and motivation. Where organizations that moved to a 3 + 2 or a 3 + 1 + 1 model are finding that there is more pressure to move back to the office or the 5 + 0 + 0 model (as it is sometimes portrayed). This is leading to people leaving, raising questions in organizing team meetings and a general cultural challenge – people don’t like to be forced to do anything and many have gotten used to working from home and the benefits that brings. Leaders need to manage this tension and raise engagement and connection. A tough ask!

Building Team Culture 

Mark Whittle, vice president of advisory in the Gartner HR practice says, “organizational culture is new to the top five priorities for HR leaders this year, largely because HR leaders believe they don’t measure culture effectively nor do they know how to truly drive culture change.” So how do leaders engage their people to achieve that balance of being aligned and connected? Leaders need to develop a culture in their team – key focus areas are based on performance and well-being. Related to the move to hybrid, the challenge highlighted by Gartner research is that employees need to be connected and aligned to culture. Combine the normal challenge of aligning and connecting when people are in an office with the new challenge of hybrid, and the challenge is significant.

The Player-Coach role 

As we deliver leadership programs, we see more and more of the role of player-coach.  This is where people are promoted because they are good at delivering their sales or technical role and then on the back of it are ‘promoted’ or given the role of people manager.  Many of these leaders see the people side as a ‘side of the desk role’.  They don’t have the bandwidth to do the people role effectively.  The pressure is focused on individual targets – leadership is an afterthought.  Supporting the intentional growth of individuals and teams is still as relevant now as it has always been. How do we as a player-coach and a leader of hybrid teams build a coaching and mentoring practice that is effective? How do we become a grower of people?

Seeing the future or how to thrive in chaos

One of the biggest needs for leaders in 2024 is a crystal ball – we wish. To be able to see the future and predict what they will face is a need. But how possible is it? In 2023 so many struggled to be able to predict income and how clients were going to buy. The world is becoming more chaotic and therefore leaders and their teams need to be more agile in how they deal with that chaos.  We describe leadership as the ability to thrive in a chaos in a deeply human way.

Being busy or cutting things out of your life

The art of cutting out things versus adding more things on top. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says, “The way to live a full life is to act quickly. Particularly as you grow older, it’s alarmingly easy to let a year or two (or five) slip by without doing the important things you always wanted to do. You get into a rhythm—not necessarily one you love, but one you become comfortable repeating—and the grooves of your daily routine become deeper and more established. Speed is perpetually undervalued. That doesn’t mean you should feel frantic or rushed. In fact, it’s likely you should eliminate some of the things that make you feel so busy to make space for things you always wanted to do. But it means you should stop letting the days drift by waiting for the moment to be right. Stop acting like there is infinite time. This—the way you are living right now—is your one life.” 

Most successful leaders identify a shift they made to do less. By doing less they become more effective at the core areas that are left. How do leaders do less in a world where they are being asked to do more with less?


One of the core needs of leaders is to increase their connections in the form of networking, industry knowledge and deepening client relationships. They are also being asked to deepen connection within their teams and with their stakeholders. For a lot of leaders, the idea of networking and building connection is either a source of irritation, and fear or seen as pointless. What the evidence is showing us is that true engagement can only come through increasing effective connection. How do we do that?

What are the leadership challenges you are facing? Speak to the team to see how we can help equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to conquer them in 2024.