As I implement Tour de Smart People each fall, I am reminded of how being in conversation with others motivates me to take greater action in my consulting work. My analysis of themes gathered from talking with 15 organizational executives has especially highlighted the critical need leaders at all levels have to feel supported and to learn how to support those they manage. Here are some insights I’ve gained and how they are defining the coaching opportunities I plan to offer in 2023 focused on leading people.
Theme 1: Retaining talent is as important as recruiting talent.
Executives continue to be focused on recruiting skilled workers, but greater focus is shifting to how to retain good employees, especially leaders. As individuals recently recruited to organizations have received higher pay, bonuses, and other perks, those who have been at organizations a long time are also wanting to feel valued.
A big focus of employee retention is on creating the culture for employees to show up as their authentic selves. Executives are asking questions like: How are people being treated? Do they feel like they belong? What flexibility do they desire to balance their personal and professional needs? Can they show up and be vulnerable about their personal lives?
Theme 2: Leaders are burning out quickly.
Driving an attention to the employee experience is a recognition that people are still in crisis. While executives often focus on the big picture future, they are realizing that their teams are not ready. Many employees have not yet recovered from the stress and trauma of the pandemic and continue to face personal and professional challenges. Feelings of uncertainty, loss, and hopelessness are pervasive.
Middle managers especially are experiencing the weight of addressing business issues, like supply chain delays, while tending to the struggles employees are experiencing. They feel the downward pressure from leadership to perform and the upward pressure from their employees who are stretched. The difference is that top executives are acknowledging the issue and reflecting on the pace in which to move forward with change.
Theme 3: Leaders are learning how to lead people.
While leaders often develop skills to lead operationally and tactically, executives are increasingly recognizing the importance of learning human-centered leadership. Leaders today need to know how to lead with empathy, create spaces of safety and belonging, and to inspire hope in times of uncertainty and change. The challenge is that executives don’t always know where to turn to for guidance. They are picking up strategies from reading books or talking with other leaders, but the ideas aren’t implemented with a unified approach.
What this means for 3 Consulting?
For me, it affirms the value of offering learning, guidance, and expertise to leaders on how to lead human-centered change. We are preparing to offer opportunities for current and emerging leaders to develop skills and approaches together, while also creating spaces to recover from stress and burnout.
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