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Aaron Cluka

Leadership Skills in 2024: Here's what you need to know

Leadership skills are more important than ever. With new ways of working changing how we manage teams, leaders need to be on top of their game when it comes to having the right skills to meet the challenge.

Organisations are always finding new ways to develop future leaders, so let’s look at where leadership development is today, and where it’s heading.


So, what is leadership development?

Leadership development starts well before a person receives their new title.

We are seeing organisations implement leadership skills development programmes for all employees, regardless of where they sit in the company.

From a person’s first day, companies are building foundational skills to give stability and confidence to their staff, using videos, micro-learning, and on-the-job coaching from leaders. This 'leaders everywhere' approach shows a desire from the company to invest in their employees.

It also begins the first step for someone to consider leadership roles for themselves in the future. Building these foundational skills early and as a regular part of an employee's role allows programmes like 'Emerge' (an entry point for individuals wanting to step into leadership at The Warehouse Group), to push further into leadership skill capability.

CASE STUDY: The Warehouse Group Leadership Programme

Although these concepts may seem familiar to anyone in the leadership development space, how we use these skills has shifted.

Let’s dive in and break it down.



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Resilience and Agility


“We have experienced, at least in my career, one of the hardest environments for leaders to navigate.” Says Aidan Stoate, CEO of Inspire Group NZ.


When we look back at the last 18 months, he isn’t wrong. Leaders have to manage multiple external factors impacting their work and their teams. The ability to bounce back from abrupt change, especially when the change impacts people negatively, has become a fundamental skill.

For all organisations, change always brings uncertainty of how budgets, priorities and staff are managed. Most of these situations are well beyond the control of most leaders and can create a sense of helplessness and inability to react.

READ: Mastering BANI: Learning Design in an Uncertain World

Resilient leaders pivot and focus on what they can affect within their sphere of influence and are able to find the best path forward in a situation.

This includes ways to support their team as a situation develops.

Leaders often need to support those whose resilience is shaken or who are struggling with a recent change.

Agility to work through change and the resilience to help others manage that change are skills that everyone can develop, and leaders must continue to master this skill as they flex into their roles.

ACCESS OUR FREE MODULE: Building Personal Resilience



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Patience is a virtue anyone can develop

With resilience comes patience.

Leaders must balance the needs of the organisation with the needs of their direct reports. This may mean working through an out-of-work issue with a team member instead of discussing their project at a weekly 1:1.

It may mean managing expectations for an impending senior leadership decision that might impact the team. By neglecting to develop patience, leaders can become reactive and less effective in responding which, in turn, leads to a breakdown of trust and an increase in anxiety for all concerned.

We see projects suddenly go on hold or cancelled, or new work flooding in all at once. These changes, often unanticipated, may require letting go of previous plans and (often) beginning again.

Patience and resilience become more tightly linked and essential when it comes to leadership.



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Empathy is the future

Resilience and patience are skills that leaders have honed for decades, so what makes them the leadership skills we see as important for the future?

It comes down to empathy.

The world is changing faster and faster, the next generation of leaders have experienced quick and unpredictable changes throughout their entire careers. As they begin their leadership journey and start coaching others, empathy will drive their style. It brings opportunities for leaders to think laterally and creatively to support their team.

Embracing empathy allows leaders to adapt and think quickly, allowing them to be their team’s advocate to the company, while being the company’s advocate for their team.

LISTEN: Compassionate Leadership to Create Behaviour Change

Empathy also allows our leaders to be authentic in their roles. No one wants to have the unknowable, inscrutable manager they can’t connect with, so leaning into the passions, drivers and empathy of our leaders will allow them to grow, shine and succeed while uplifting their teams.

The old adage of 'people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers' can be flipped on its head here. An empathetic manager can make the difference between retaining a great team member and needing to recruit a replacement. Leading with the three pillars of empathy, patience and resilience, is a skill set that is increasingly important in today’s workforce.



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“We are the meat in the sandwich”

As we wrap up, it is important to remember that leadership balances a lot of priorities to get the best out of each person on the team.

Leaders are in the unique situation of having to balance priorities between their team and the organisation which allows them to be advocates for both. “We are the meat in the sandwich” Stoate remarked when talking about leadership for today and the future.

“Leaders drive team culture, personal development and make sure the mahi gets done. It is a lot to manage, but good leadership skills give them the tools to succeed.”

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