Your 2024 leadership context

Your 2024 leadership context

How aware are your leaders that their practices may need an update?

The good news for 2024 is that leading business groups and the World Bank expect our economy to grow. The less good news is that Thai leaders face new challenges, including leading conversations across generational boundaries and getting younger employees to mentor senior leaders on emerging technologies.

At the same time, stress levels for all employee groups have never been higher, and changing priorities suggest we may need to rethink relationships between employers and employees.

Why understanding your leadership context is critical: In my company and industry, we have long operated from the principle that context is king. We had to move from “pushing products” to creating solutions without the expense of customisation. It was challenging for us, our partners and our clients. I am sure you have faced the same.

More challenging is answering the question of how we deliver a similar level of contextual leadership to our people when the workforce has never been so diverse, multi-generational and operating in an environment of almost constant change.

My company’s headcount dropped in 2023, but like others, it became more diverse in terms of age, identification, nationalities, expectations and aspirations. And all for our benefit. The fact is that what worked in 2023 may no longer apply.

If my context is changing, or I may need to update things, what could I do?

The same principles apply if you lead a team or a division, or if you work for a multinational or a small enterprise. Here are things I have found to be helpful:

Check your context: Analyse your current business environment and what is happening in your organisation. Spot the external changes and pressures, but also changes in employee morale, team dynamics and the company grapevine. Once you have an initial idea, you can formulate better questions.

Start asking: Get feedback on the perspectives of employees, customers and stakeholders. In a big organisation, you could use surveys, interviews and focus groups to understand what areas need adjustment.

Rethink your current leadership strategy: Evaluate its effectiveness. Identify any skills, knowledge or communication gaps impeding leaders’ ability to adapt to the changing context.

Encourage open communication: Help employees feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and concerns. Hold regular meetings, feedback sessions or one-on-one discussions to gather insights.

Invest in your leadership: Set aside time and resources for leadership development opportunities and training to enhance skills that are crucial in the new context. These do not have to be expensive or complicated but they should be context-driven and job-based. Set yourself missions to try new things and evaluate the results. Consider coaching or mentoring to support leaders in adapting to new challenges.

Keep an eye on your progress: Monitor the impact of your adjustments. Make further adjustments based on feedback and results.

Try what works for others: Attend conferences and participate in professional networks to stay connected with best practices. You do not have to start from zero — there are people willing to help.

How common are unaware leaders?

While not solely based on leaders, research by the organisational psychologist Tasha Eurich found that 90% of people believe they are self-aware, but fewer than 15% actually are. Understanding context is critical for successful leadership, and we know that what works in one situation will not necessarily work every time.

For leaders to grow, they need to be open to feedback and pursue self-improvement. They need to keep their emotions in check and create accountability. The increasingly dynamic business environment and uncertainty mean that keeping up with your changing leadership context will be a significant contributor to your effectiveness and sustainable success.

Does it matter?

In a time of change, awareness of your leadership allows you to understand yourself better, manage your emotions and communicate more effectively with your team. In this day and age, leaders must understand the impact of their actions on others.

As skills and jobs transform, leaders must continuously appraise their current strengths and weaknesses and adapt their leadership. I have seen it in mine and other organisations, and I am sure you have. Leaders previously successful in your organisation or elsewhere stop evolving with the changing times. Rebuilding their self-awareness is crucial if we want them to guide change and inspire change in others

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer, Managing Director and Founder at SEAC — Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Centre. She is fascinated by the challenge of transforming education for all to create better prospects for Thais and people everywhere. Reach her email at arinya_t@seasiacenter.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa

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