Eight Essential Leadership Tips for 2024

To give you a jump-start on making even more progress as a leader in the new year, we’ve curated these leadership tips from some of our most thought-provoking articles of 2023. Consider which ones you can apply to your current — and upcoming — challenges.

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    As leaders consider which skills to focus on developing in 2024, change management and emotional intelligence might top the list. Even as leaders are called on to craft strategy around the use of artificial intelligence, the harder problems involve steering teams through all of the changes AI continues to bring.

    If you’re one of those leaders, you’ll need to not only retain but also inspire your best people in 2024. That might mean helping them automate business processes and experiment with generative AI. But it will also mean honing some of your distinctly human strengths, like communication and empathy. The good news: You navigated the darkest days of the pandemic and the transition to hybrid work, so you’ve done some valuable prep work.

    To give you a jump-start on making even more progress as a leader in the new year, we’ve curated these leadership tips from some of our most thought-provoking articles of 2023. (In other words, we’ve saved you from having to ask ChatGPT, “What should I work on as a leader?”) Consider which ones you can apply to your current — and upcoming — challenges.

    1. Flip the script on how you deal with pushback.

    “Effective leaders think of pushback as an opportunity to boost their team’s learning while moving their organization forward. The objective should be to increase people’s understanding and build support by tempering both advocate enthusiasm and contrarian pessimism. This deeper level of understanding, while not necessarily satisfying to all in the moment, fosters a climate of candor, humility, adaptation, and trust, thereby subtly steering pushback away from latent disruptive tendencies.”

    Read the full article, “Five Ways Leaders Can Turn Pushback Into Progress,” by Phillip G. Clampitt and Bob DeKoch.

    2. Foster more intellectual honesty on your team.

    “Emotional intelligence includes four main elements: self-awareness (awareness of your emotions), self-management (regulation of your emotions), social awareness (empathy and the ability to see others’ viewpoints), and relationship management (the ability to find common ground and build rapport).

    “While leaders need to be skilled at all four, social awareness and relationship management are particularly important to encouraging debate without destroying psychological safety. Leaders who can listen with empathy, see others’ perspectives, and defuse conflict by finding common goals are more likely to foster intellectual honesty while preserving safety. They can engage in self-reflection, show humility about how much (or how little) they know, use humor to relieve tense situations, and tell people they are valued.”

    Read the full article, “Why Innovation Depends on Intellectual Honesty,” by Jeff Dyer, Nathan Furr, Curtis Lefrandt, and Taeya Howell.

    3. Hold better one-on-one meetings.

    “There’s nothing more frustrating for a direct report than discussing an issue or opportunity with a manager who never follows through after the initial conversation. Managers should take notes, review them after the meeting, and complete any action items stemming from the conversation before the next weekly meeting. Managers expect this from direct reports but need to hold themselves accountable as well.”

    Read the full article, “Five Ways to Make Your One-on-One Meetings More Effective,” by Jessica Wisdom.

    And while you’re at it, prioritize making more human connections in your meetings, advises leadership coach and MIT SMR columnist Sanyin Siang. Watch her video, “How Can I Make Meetings Less Painful?

    4. Look at problem-solving through a new lens.

    “When relying on intuition, cognitive biases (such as overconfidence and confirmation bias) can muddle the decision-making process. The deep smarts that enable people to discern problems and propose instant remedies in their domain of expertise quickly become a liability outside of it. The French call this déformation professionnelle — the tendency to see any problem through the distorting lens of one’s professional experience. We overestimate the relevance of our experience and underappreciate what we don’t know. However, complex strategic problems require new perspectives and options, not just what has worked in the past.”

    Read the full article, “Become a Better Problem Solver by Telling Better Stories,” by Arnaud Chevallier, Albrecht Enders, and Jean-Louis Barsoux.

    5. Strive for equity on hybrid teams.

    “It’s important to realize that the conversation around remote work has evolved over the past few years. The transition from COVID-19 lockdowns to a ‘post-pandemic’ period with increased flexibility may lead to polarization and less understanding between employees with differing work preferences. Taking steps to eliminate an us-versus-them mentality will be critical, not only between managers and subordinates but also among members of the same team who choose to work in different locations. To that end, it may be useful to mix up teams and leaders in different locations.”

    Read the full article, “Managing the Cultural Pitfalls of Hybrid Work,” by Christine Moorman and Katie Hinkfuss.

    6. Build better judgment muscles in a hyper-transparent world.

    “Let’s take as a given that the transparent nature of the world and workplace will only increase from here on out. In such an environment, your ability to quickly and sensibly decide what to do with a piece of information — your judgment — becomes a critical tool for survival and success. Leaders will want to consciously work on this skill themselves, but given that they cannot be in every one of a multiplying set of conversations all of the time, they’ll also want their teams to get better at judgment. …

    “There is huge value in being able to trust your team to do the right thing, even when confronted with strange and conflicting information, when you’re not around. Practicing scenario planning is a helpful tool in this regard, even for team members who might not come to the table with an innately strong sense of judgment. It can also be helpful for teams to practice evaluating the veracity of information in order to make better decisions. That’s a critical skill in a world in which generative AI is emerging.”

    Read the full article, “Leading in the Age of Exploding Transparency,” by Melissa Swift.

    7. Find new ways to inspire during uncertainty.

    “Help each employee work toward their dream job. You can’t always guarantee someone a promotion (or, unfortunately, even job stability), but you can commit to giving your employees the kinds of valuable learning opportunities that will help them no matter what comes next.

    “To surface the experiences or projects your team members would be excited to take on, ask them to show you a job posting for a role they’d be thrilled to have in three to five years. Walk through the listed responsibilities together, and pinpoint any for which they think they lack the skills or compelling experience. Then commit to helping them grow in these areas by offering them relevant tasks or projects.”

    Read the full article, “How to Support Your Team When Uncertainty Is High,” by Liz Fosslien.

    8. Improve your balance: Develop extracurricular coping strategies.

    “As leadership intensifies, the need for balance becomes paramount. Developing coping mechanisms outside the professional sphere is not a luxury but a necessity. Whether it’s through physical activity, putting pen to paper in a journal, engaging in creative outlets, or cherishing moments with loved ones, these pursuits offer an essential emotional reset. According to our research, leaders who actively engaged in such extracurricular coping strategies saw a 56% reduction in work-related stress levels and a 47% increase in overall well-being. Additionally, these leaders noted a 43% improvement in their problem-solving capabilities within the workplace. Cultivating effective coping mechanisms is vital for a leader’s holistic growth and endurance in their role.”

    Read the full article, “The Emotional Landscape of Leadership,” by Benjamin Laker, Natalia Weisz, Vijay Pereira, and Alfredo De Massis.


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