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ATD Blog

3 Leadership Priorities Shaping Talent Development in 2024

Monday, January 22, 2024
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Each new year brings an opportunity for companies to refresh their talent priorities. A lot has changed in the past few years in the face of challenging world events, including the pressure for companies to stay ahead to develop and retain top talent.

In this blog post, I offer three key ways to ensure your leaders are well-equipped to meet challenges and navigate today’s workplace complexities, thus preparing your organization to thrive in 2024 and beyond.

Develop Talent to Embrace and Navigate Change Related to AI

There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) brings with it profound possibilities, including content creation, analysis, and language translation. But that opportunity may come with employee anxiety about job loss or the challenge of keeping up in an AI-savvy workplace.

So, how can leaders help make this transition easier? Begin with setting the tone, which can be achieved by fostering trust with team members and being transparent in decision making. Clearly communicating a rationale for incorporating AI while also showing concern for employees will help assuage concerns about how the company uses new technology. Additionally, leaders can create ethical accountability with AI by informing customers about how their company uses technology. This clarity, in turn, creates trust among employees.

Consider also reminding leaders about the importance of continuous learning and a growth mindset. Both characteristics will further their success as workplaces adapt to technological advances.

Our research reveals that leaders at organizations focusing on managing change are 32 percent more effective than leaders at other organizations. Achieving successful leadership in the AI era requires balance, which is best accomplished by understanding how to leverage technology while maintaining a human touch.

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Prepare Leaders to Better Manage Hybrid Teams

Trust plays a critical role in the success of hybrid and remote workplaces, especially in driving employee engagement and improving retention. According to data from DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast, a whopping 41 percent of leaders in the United States now work in a hybrid role, with an additional 22 percent working completely remotely. Many managers working on-site lead team members who are hybrid or remote, which means it is crucial that leaders are prepared to manage teams both in and outside of the physical workplace.

Without daily organic touchpoints, many professionals familiar with in-person work will require a new approach for hybrid and remote interactions—building relationships, using emotional intelligence, and creating open communication become especially important. To help foster trust between leaders and team members, talent development professionals should train managers to lead with empathy and strengthen relationships with their teams through meaningful interactions and development conversations. Leaders may also need to be upskilled in competencies such as creating an inclusive environment and driving alignment.

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Fulfill DEI Promises: A Continuing Imperative

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continue to be at the forefront of organizational priorities in 2024. However, ensuring that DEI initiatives translate into meaningful change requires a focused and sustained effort, starting with your leaders.

One way organizations can move the needle this year is to provide leaders with critical skills to foster an inclusive culture, which begins, first and foremost, with empathy. For leaders to encourage empathy, they must be able to model the behavior, starting by putting themselves in their team members’ shoes. This creates an emotional understanding that helps to propel DEI forward.

In addition to empathy, leaders should expect to focus on communication, delegation, honest feedback, and fair conflict resolution to create an inclusive workplace.

Navigating 2024 With Strategic Leadership Development

As companies embrace the challenges and opportunities that 2024 brings, proactive and strategic leadership development remains paramount. Addressing the three leadership priorities outlined here with quality training opportunities will ensure that organizations are positioned for success. Let us recognize the critical role leadership development plays in shaping the employee experience and commit to building agile, empathetic leaders capable of driving positive change.

About the Author

Stephanie Neal, MA, leads DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research (CABER) where she and her team manage strategic market research and trend studies on leadership in the workplace.
With more than 15 years of experience working with companies to define and address critical business challenges, Neal blends both an in-depth analytical and creative approach to help companies better inform their decisions and improve people and business outcomes.
Neal is co-author of several industry-leading research reports, including Women as Mentors: Does She or Doesn't She? A Global Study of Businesswomen and Mentoring and DDI's Global Leadership Forecast, a major trend research study providing deep and actionable insights on how organizations can optimize their management of leadership talent in alignment with strategic priorities.

1 Comment
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Good article Stephanie. All are very valid priorities. Regarding hybrid work, I like your point about daily organic touchpoints with team members. As a hybrid manager myself, I realize how easy it is to default to the "out of sight, out of mind" mode. Some of us may worry it could appear as micro-managing, but it really isn't, as long as we just start with high-level and open-ended questions. It could start as simply as a chat message or email to just ask how their day is going. Thanks!
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