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Top 5 Leadership Challenges for 2014

Jan 23, 2014 Articles

Each year, business leaders face new challenges that effect goals, initiatives and, ultimately, the bottom line. We spoke with our clients to uncover the Top 5 Leadership Challenges for 2014 and how to handle them.

1. Aligning & Energizing Others. From productivity to profitability, hardworking and happy employees are critical to an organization's success. So how can we ensure our teams and people are working enthusiastically toward the same goal? Not surprisingly, it starts with vision. Communicating and serving as a living example of a consistent vision will help align and inspire your teams. By "walking the talk", leaders demonstrate that they believe in the goals of the organization and are holding themselves, and others, accountable. Try posting vision statements somewhere visible and refer to it repeatedly. Recognizing those who are living the organization's vision can also be a great strategy to engage and inspire.   

2. Attracting, Developing & Retaining Talent. In today's market, it seems getting and keeping the right people has never been more challenging. The good news is there are steps you can take that will make your organization more engaging. Talent attraction, development and retention requires a two-pronged approach, focused on strategy and the individual. First, lay a good foundation for employee management with up to date job descriptions and clear organizational strategy. What positions and reporting structure do you need to be successful? Based on what you know, are employees in the right roles? Second, take the time to develop talent by having conversations and coaching about performance. Recent research from The Gallup Organization shows that the most effective leaders invest in developing individuals' strengths. In fact, when leaders focus on and invest in strength building, employee engagement goes up eightfold .

3. Managing Priorities. Leaders have numerous demands and limited time. Start by having a clear strategy of what key initiatives you should be focused on, instead of working on everything. Next, align your team and direct reports. Set clear expectations and be consistent; most importantly provide support by removing roadblocks. The goal is to set your team up for success so they can bring you solutions (instead of problems), allowing you to focus on the future. Finally, when it comes to requests of your time, remember it's ok to say "no".

4. Maintaining Corporate Culture. Maintaining corporate culture is essential to success. Set values that align with the culture you wish to maintain and connect those values to your organization's mission.  Great organizational cultures are constructed with intention. Likewise, as new team members are brought aboard, it's essential to train and educate on who you are, what you do, and why you do it that way. Most of all, practice what you preach. Modeling the behaviors you wish to see in your organization is the most effective way to demonstrate what values are a top priority.  

5. Leading Change.  In today's fast-paced world, being able to successfully move teams into new, unknown territory is needed more than ever. But how? Start by clarifying roles and responsibilities to align and gain support. Continue building and demonstrating trust within the organization by giving others credit for successes and celebrating milestones along the way. Be prepared to answer the "why?". By doing so, you will be able to overcome objections and move closer to buy-in. Remember that individuals need to hear a message multiple times before the really hear what we're saying. Equally important to sharing information, is listening. Take time to listen to how people feel about the change, understand the impact, and create opportunities for engagement. Finally, be fearless and don't forget- it's ok to take credit when appropriate!

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