George Ambler

Helping Leaders Grow


6 Leadership Challenges Keeping Executives Awake

A recent research white paper from Center of Creative Leadership (CCL®) titled “The Challenges Leaders Face Around the World: More Similar than Different” explores the challenges facing leaders today. The research is based on data from 763 participants of leadership development programs from China/Hong Kong, Egypt, India, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.

The research found that senior management and executives wrestle with the following 6 leadership challenges:

  1. Developing Managerial Effectiveness: The challenge of developing the relevant skills — such as time-management, prioritization, strategic thinking, decision-making and getting up to speed with the job — to be more effective at work.
  2. Inspiring Others: The challenge of inspiring or motivating others to ensure they are satisfied with their jobs and working smarter.
  3. Developing Employees: The challenge of developing others, including mentoring and coaching.
  4. Leading a Team: The challenge of team-building, team development and team management. Specific challenges include how to instill pride in a team or support the team, how to lead a big team and what to do when taking over a new team.
  5. Guiding Change: The challenge of managing, mobilizing, understanding and leading change. Guiding change includes knowing how to mitigate consequences, overcome resistance to change and deal with employees’ reaction to change.
  6. Managing Internal Stakeholders and Politics: The challenge of managing relationships, politics and image. This challenge includes gaining managerial support and managing up and getting buy-in from other departments, groups or individuals.

Reflecting on this list of challenges it’s clear that we are struggling to adapt effectively to a VUCA environment – the uncertain and fast changing times of today. We’re experiencing immense change at all levels of society. And this change is happening so fast that we often find ourselves struggling to keep up. Leadership styles and practices of the past are often no longer relevant. The result? Significant change that requires personal and corporate transformation to navigate successfully.

In times like these it comes as no surprise we’re seeking to build teams, inspire others, lead change and manage dynamic internal relationships and politics. The immense time pressures and the speed of change requires leaders to improve their strategic focus, decision-making processes and their personal effectiveness.

Enterprises who are not proactively addressing these challenges will be ill equipped to lead into the future. So there is an urgent need to develop people at all levels and prepare them for the competitive environment of tomorrow.

Reflecting on these top 6 challenges what are you doing in response?



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  1. Hey George, great piece. I’m sure if we surveyed executives 100 years ago and in 100 years from now, these challenges will still be on the list. The key is to be aware of them, face them, and work through them. Leadership is a lifetime pursuit and it requires your entire team to help.

  2. Albert G. Udoh, fnimn

    Great piece. These challenges will continue to be as long as leaders don’t accept the fact that they need help from within and without the team. Leadership is a full-time job and is all encompassing but individuals have specific strengths and specialisation and therefore will require inputs and helps from others

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