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A Leadership Action Plan

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

Recommendations on what it will take to be a great leader in 2023.

For leaders and organizations to thrive in today’s complex and changing workplace, the need for leadership development is crucial. A core element of understanding the future of leadership development is research and data analytics, which is what we focus on at Pivotal Growth. Based on our findings, here’s what leaders need to know to succeed in 2023 and beyond.

Events Driving Change

First, let’s take a look at what’s driving the changes for leaders. It should come as no surprise that global leaders are concerned about the economy and a pending recession. In fact, our data shows that they have become less optimistic about their business prospects than just one year earlier. That’s because leaders are finding that managing their business is incredibly challenging when addressing the post-pandemic work conditions and arrangements. Further, soft skills are no longer optional when managing individuals and teams. Lastly, leaders are accelerating investment in leadership development, data-backed decision-making and leadership consulting services.

What does the future hold for leaders?

Recently, Pivotal Growth conducted two research projects identifying the future of leadership. Our data unveiled the top three topics you need to be focused on.

  1. Leadership is evolving and the skills needed to execute are changing

  2. Soft skills are dominant in leadership and, as a result, are no longer ‘soft,’ but rather imperative skills

  3. The best results happen when leaders incorporate their own inner work as part of the change and results plan

Let’s take a deeper look at each, so you can better understand how these trends impact your leadership and business.

1. Leadership is Evolving

Our global leadership data and research is intended to help reduce uncertainty, and can be used to inform your decision-making processes and resource investments. It showed there are four key areas to focus strategy, planning and execution on as leadership continues to evolve.

1. There are new demands for leadership. Here are some steps you can take to succeed (HBR, 2022):

  • Executives need to motivate diverse, technologically savvy, and global workforces

  • Executives need to play the role of corporate statesperson, dealing effectively with a wide array of constituents

  • Executives should be able to apply their skills in a new company, an unfamiliar industry, and with unfamiliar colleagues

  • Executives must work in a “future-ready workforce”. Build enduring capabilities such as imagination, social intelligence, empathy, curiosity, resilience, sense-making, critical thinking, adaptive thinking, teaming, creativity, and emotional intelligence

2. There is prioritized change for CEOs, too (Deloitte 2022). They must:

  • Embrace discomfort and adopt decision-making tools to address complex problems

  • Adopt a of mindset of “progress over perfection” and let go of perfectionism

  • Resist quick conclusions and oversimplification

  • Leverage a network, and not go it alone

  • Go to a higher vantage point to view situations

  • Use 1:1 efforts to develop and retain top talent

3. The leadership competency gap needs to be prioritized over technical skills

The drastic changes in the last few years has exposed a serious concern over the gap in leadership competencies. In a recent report, 75% of respondents rate the gap as very important to important. This makes leadership competencies the top priority over personal competencies and technical skills (McLean & Company, 2022).

4. Leaders must invest in a learning and development program refresh

Learning and development will help organizations keep up with the changing demands in the business environment. New development offerings are needed. This requires strategic initiatives to enable continuous learning. It’s time to refresh your leadership development programs. (McLean & Company, 2022)

2. Excelling with Soft Skills

There is an importance being placed on leaders having soft skills. In fact, it’s now part of the definition of leadership. Below is Pivotal Growth’s point of view on four soft skills that leaders must master. We’ll be evolving our diagnostics to measure them.

Resilience: Sustain the mental strength and optimism to learn from mistakes, focus, decisively make decisions, remain composed and maintain a relentless pursuit of success.

Strategy: Know your business, hold a point of view on trends, make accurate decisions and comfortably work without precedent.

Change leadership: Have a strategic, proactive, and people-centric approach to change management. Step in with intentional leadership presence that leverages inspirational influence, high-performing teams, and communications. Maintain a disciplined focus on successful change.

Social skills: Achieve high-impact conversations by being accurately self-aware and possessing strong interpersonal skills. Use style flexibility to communicate and interact with diverse personalities.

3. Leadership Begins with Inner Work

Accurate self-knowledge and self-awareness insights are essential to managing your business. Here are two areas to focus on in this regard.

1. Learning and development

Leaders credit higher levels of success through development opportunities with (Linkage Inc. Best Practices in Leadership Development Handbook )*:

1) Action learning

2) Exposure to senior management

3) Exposure to strategic goals

4) Personal development, which includes planning, training, networking,

best practices sharing

5) External coaching

*ranked in order of impact

2. Measuring leadership effectiveness

It’s become imperative for leaders to access an accurate reflection of their influence within a company. Their internal lens for how they see their success and status of relationships within a company is sometimes different than the external lens held by employees. Current research shows that the external lens, the employee, is almost more important. Self-assessment and feedback can be measured to assess (McLean & Company, 2022):

  • Environment: Create an environment that fosters growth and strong values. Build a team of strong and capable people.

  • Attitude: Understand the attitudes among the employees.

  • Objectives: Be held accountable and achieving strategic objectives and growth metrics.

  • Results and Profitability: Lead a profitable company.

Other forms of measurement to consider include: OKR (Objectives and Key Results), Team Growth, Employee Confidence, Customer Experience, Employee Engagement, Inner and Outer-Game, Employee Inspiration, Employee Success, Management + Mentorship.

If you’re interested in accessing the research sources, send us an email.

How We Can Help

Now that you better understand what it’ll take for leaders to thrive in 2023, we’d welcome the opportunity to help you strategize, measure, design and implement your leadership development strategy and program. The pandemic brought to light the importance of having a strong foundation of leadership practices so you’re prepared for the unexpected. Continue to invest in your people, data-driven decision-making processes and leadership consulting services. Here’s to a successful 2023!

Learn more about Pivotal Growth’s approach to measuring leadership effectiveness.

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