Career & Leadership Coach, Korn Ferry Advance
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5 Ways to Be a Better Leader in 2024
The 2023 workplace landscape can be boiled down to one word: change. Artificial-intelligence inroads, fluctuating return-to-office requirements, flaring political tensions: The year has thrown more than its fair share of unpredictability at leaders up and down the corporate ladder.
Because 2024 likely won’t slow down the pace of change, experts say leaders will need to continue to evolve. “There is one overriding force that is shaping what leadership skills will be needed next year and beyond. That is a disruptive change that is turning the way organizations operate and leaders lead upside down,” says Val Olson, career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.
With that in mind, here are five skills and traits that experts say leaders—or any employee, really—should aim to improve in the New Year.
Competent leaders must not only promote a hospitable workplace but also address conflicts when they arise. The problem: Bosses themselves don’t think they’re very good at resolving them. A new survey of 600 US business leaders shows that nearly 6 out of 10 say that their weakest skills are in conflict management—and that it’s costly to their companies.
Conflict threatens healthy workplace relationships, and, in turn, productivity. “Managing relationships with board members, peers, teams, suppliers, and customers is key to keeping productive capacity high,” says Anu Gupta, a Korn Ferry senior partner in its Life Sciences practice.
Being more technologically adept.
Bosses often want everyone else to embrace new technologies, but they aren’t always so good at learning new ways themselves. Experts say leaders need to be ready to lead their teams through forthcoming technological advancements and help incorporate them so that they become routine. “Encourage the team to experiment with new technologies and methods,” says Olson. Leading by example is critical.
Experts say it’s encouraging that, at least when it comes to artificial intelligence, leaders are walking the walk. One survey found 80% of leaders regularly use generative AI.
Display more emotional intelligence.
Experts emphasize that leaders should continue to hone their emotional intelligence, encompassing the so-called soft skills, in 2024. Showing self-awareness and self-control, displaying empathy, having a positive outlook, and other elements of emotional intelligence are increasingly hallmarks of effective leadership. Indeed, studies show that 85% of workplace success is a product of effective emotional-intelligence skills. “You are now the spokesperson for an increasing number of individuals, ideas, and issues,” says Frances Weir, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.
Be more authentic.
Championing authenticity in leadership promotes trustworthiness among teams in the workplace. Experts advise leaders not to confuse authenticity with unfiltered sentiments; instead, they advise thinking of it as a routine evaluation of an organization's identity. Gupta says authenticity comes down to two factors: “having the energy to stay self-aware, and having the relationships that give you feedback to shape who you want to evolve into being.”
Communicate more effectively.
Work conflicts and project delays often can be mitigated—or eliminated entirely—when leaders speak (or write) clearly, concisely, and intentionally. Being an effective communicator, experts say, is a timeless skill that transcends industries and job roles, but it might be even more critical in an uncertain 2024. “To navigate constant change, organizations and leaders can’t rely on old, fixed models for strategic planning, communications, decision-making, and operations,” Olson says.
For more expert career advice, connect with a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.