Our features editor, Sherlyn Gomes, had the honor of engaging in a captivating interview with Dr. Glenn Williams, a leadership and organizational well-being luminary. With over 25 years of experience as a psychologist, C-suite leader, and executive coach, Dr. Williams founded LCP Global in 2010, where he has passionately worked to bridge the gap between personal and corporate well-being, ultimately unlocking resilience and driving breakthrough performance. His latest book, “When Leaders Are Lost: Moving Beyond Disappointment, Failure, and Hurt to Redefine Success,” published in July 2023, is on the rise to be a best-seller. In this interview, he shines a light on the upcoming leadership trends in 2024 and how leaders can better prepare for them.
- How do you envision technology’s role in shaping leadership practices in 2024, and what advice would you offer leaders aiming to harness these advancements for organizational growth?
In 2024, technology is a game-changer, requiring thoughtful leadership. At a recent healthcare conference in Melbourne focusing on a fascinating area, aged care, within the healthcare sector, I noticed a significant divergence in perspectives on AI. Some were wary of potential disruptions, while others asked, “Why not use AI to boost productivity and comply with health regulations?”
For companies and leaders aiming to embrace this latter perspective, I recommend actively engaging with subject matter experts in your specific industry. Seek opportunities to deepen your understanding of how cutting-edge technologies like AI can be seamlessly integrated and effectively leveraged to foster innovation, elevate productivity, and enhance overall operational efficiency.
- How can leaders foster a sense of unity, purpose, and collaboration within teams that might be physically dispersed?
Firstly, it’s crucial to acknowledge that relationships form the foundation of any successful business, whether with staff, employees, contractors, vendors, or customers. Leaders should tailor their approach to meet the unique needs of each group, particularly in hybrid work settings. I recommend proactively organizing “engagement opportunities” to enhance staff engagement.
Secondly, leaders should encourage what I call “Innovation Working Sessions,” where teams can unleash their creativity to address specific challenges or improve organizational practices. This also helps in fostering innovation in the organization. Furthermore, rather than solely addressing remote work concerns, focus on identifying and leveraging individual and team strengths. Recognize that motivation varies based on an individual’s life stage and circumstances, and tailor incentives accordingly. For instance, financial rewards may hold different significance for someone in their mid-20s than those supporting families or funding education.
- How do you see diversity and inclusion evolving in the leadership landscape for 2024, and what steps should leaders take to create genuinely inclusive environments that drive innovation?
Many organizations share a common issue: they wait too long to act, hindering progress. Leaders should take the initiative and not wait for external pressures or glaring diversity and inclusion problems. Cultural assessments can help assess the prevailing workplace culture, especially employee well-being. Proactive leaders create an environment where employees thrive, benefiting the culture and business success.
My advice to leaders is to simplify the process. Be proactive, innovative, and creative in addressing these challenges. Take the lead and identify individuals passionate about driving change within your organization to lead these initiatives.
- Could you elaborate on reskilling and upskilling in maintaining a competitive edge and how leaders can cultivate a continuous learning culture?
The traditional life model of education, career, and retirement is becoming outdated due to longer, healthier lives and the prevalence of frequent job transitions. Today, individuals experience numerous micro transitions throughout their lives, often changing job roles eight to 12 times by age 38, highlighting the importance of upskilling and maintaining a broad skill set to stay relevant in a rapidly changing job market.
Yet, some businesses have hesitated to upskill their employees, fearing that it might lead to them leaving for other opportunities. However, investing in employee development is more advantageous, even if they eventually choose to move on. A reputation for being committed to staff development not only benefits the employees but also enhances a business’s reputation. People prefer working for organizations that prioritize continuous learning and skill enhancement over those that do not invest in any development at all.
- What principles should guide leaders’ ethical decision-making in 2024, especially as they navigate sustainability, social responsibility, and AI ethics?
Ethical decision-making is not a new challenge; it has long been part of business. While AI ethics is relatively recent, we can learn from the 2008 global financial crisis as an example of questionable leadership decisions. The lesson is that businesses can no longer prioritize values less than core objectives like profitability, market share, or competitive advantage.
Today, consumers seek trustworthy and consistent brands prioritizing principles over convenience, as seen in various sectors like banking, finance, health, and aged care. Trustworthy brands garner more support, so businesses should let values guide profit rather than profit-shaping values. We have seen a shift where companies have started assessing their core values’ impact at all organizational levels, moving beyond culture assessments.
- How can leaders prioritize mental health and well-being in their organizations, and what strategies do you propose for fostering a supportive and resilient workforce?
In the post-COVID landscape, we’re witnessing a surge in depression and mental health issues, declining employee engagement, job shifts, and burnout-driven resignations. The pandemic-induced isolation prompted businesses to proactively foster community and enhance engagement from remote to hybrid setups. Recognizing that people have varying social needs is important; while some crave frequent in-person interactions, others thrive working remotely.
Additionally, some companies are encouraging the use of mental health apps to bolster personal development, wellness, and work-life balance. Notably, there’s a direct link between one’s relationships outside work and within the workplace; therefore, investing in social connections beyond the office is vital to drive overall well-being. Lastly, leaders must shift focus from performance evaluations to continuous development through coaching, which can yield more favorable outcomes, promoting employee well-being and professional growth.
- How can leaders infuse a sense of purpose into their organizations’ missions, and how does purpose-driven leadership contribute to employee satisfaction and retention?
We’re observing significant shifts as employees increasingly seek purpose-driven organizations. Many leave their jobs in favor of enterprises that generate profits while addressing critical social causes like combatting human trafficking, environmental preservation, or ensuring clean water access.
Businesses are recognizing this trend’s significance and are finding ways to support these causes. Some allocate a percentage of profits for employees to contribute to their chosen causes, maintaining a list of social enterprises, nonprofits, or humanitarian organizations. This approach includes offering pre-tax contributions and tax benefits to employees supporting these causes. Leaders can also infuse purpose by revisiting their vision and mission statements to align with employees’ values, appreciating their passions, and aligning organizational goals with these passions to foster a stronger sense of purpose among team members.
- Could you discuss collaborative leadership models that you anticipate will gain traction in 2024 and share examples of organizations that have successfully adopted these models?
We employ a process called SLIK (Rapid Alignment Process) to address a common challenge in organizations. Approximately 10% of businesses need help to bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Many invest heavily in strategizing and visioning, but only a fraction succeed in implementing their system effectively. SLIK is built upon the principles of appreciative inquiry, a renowned change management approach. Unlike traditional SWOT analyses that often focus on weaknesses and threats, our process emphasizes strengths, opportunities, and aspirations. We initiate discussions on what success looks like in 12 months, examining strengths, opportunities, and aspirations from a strength-based perspective.
Crucially, SLIK promotes collaboration among business units, avoiding unnecessary competition. By aligning core values and merging culture with strategy and execution, SLIK offers a more comprehensive and integrated approach to driving organizational success. This process has been successfully applied in numerous companies over the past year, providing a new narrative for businesses seeking alignment and purpose.
- How can leaders embrace ambiguity, make sound decisions amidst uncertainty, and communicate effectively to instill confidence in their teams and stakeholders?
In today’s world, despite having more communication channels than ever before, effective communication remains an area where many organizations underperform. Effective communication doesn’t mean denying challenging moments or hiding problems; it’s about consistent and authentic communication.
Leaders should avoid the mistake of communicating only during crises or post-crisis recovery. Instead, they should maintain ongoing communication, addressing challenges truthfully and respectfully. Authenticity and treating people with dignity are key components of successful communication, especially during difficult times.
- Leaders are often focused on short-term goals, but the concept of legacy is gaining prominence. What insights can you share about maintaining a balance between immediate objectives and leaving a lasting impact on the organization and its stakeholders?
In today’s fast-paced world, the pressure for immediate results can lead to short-term goals overshadowing long-term sustainability. Balancing both is vital. Here’s a multi-faceted approach:
The Power of 90 Days: Focus on short-term goals achievable in the next 90 days with significant impacts on your staff and business.
The Blink Test: Define success for yourself and your customers within 12 months to set a clear vision and align efforts.
3-5 Year Goals: Plan for longer-term objectives, including research and development catering to future customer needs.
While having a vision beyond five years is valuable, remain flexible. As seen in recent events like the pandemic, external forces can swiftly alter plans. Adaptability and flexibility are key.
As a leader, embrace mistakes and setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. Surround yourself with a supportive “cheer squad” that encourages you to become a better leader.