The 6 Top Challenges Leaders Face (Part 1 of 3)

blog-6challengesThe life of a modern-day leader clearly is not easy. Inside their companies, they need to lead and motivate a diversified group of people, work across organizational boundaries, improve efficiency and achieve growth. Externally, they face a complex and globalized environment; they have to manage and keep up with their customers, they competition and meet the expectations of other stakeholders. And within this environment, they are many cultural considerations leaders must face to be effective. They must work across cultural boundaries and alongside others who, at times, are very different from them and have different ways and ideas of getting work completed.

These are difficult challenges, and many leaders feel ill-prepared to tackle them. Developing leaders who can face these challenges is hard. Of course, some training needs and content can be derived from organizational strategy and planned initiatives. Yet many leaders have other needs and challenges that strategy or initiatives do not cover.

So, what are those challenges impacting new to executive level leaders and how can a company ensure that training is designed to meet the development needs of a specific leader? According to a recent study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, the nearly 800 participant leaders from all over the world consistently face the same six challenges:

1. Developing Managerial Effectiveness

The challenge of developing the relevant skills-such as time management, prioritization, strategic thinking, decision making, emotional intelligence and to be more effective at work.

2. Inspiring Others

The challenges of inspiring or motivating others to ensure they are engaged and satisfied with their jobs and their contributions; how to motivate a workforce to work smarter.

3. Developing Their Employees

The challenges of developing others, including topics around mentoring and coaching.

4. Leading A Team

The challenges of team building, team development, and team management; how to instill pride in a team or support the team, how to lead a team and what to do when taking over a new team.

5. Guiding Change

The challenge of managing, mobilizing, understanding, and leading change. How to mitigate change consequences, overcome resistance to change, and deal with employees’ reactions to change.

6. Managing Internal Stakeholders and Politics

The challenge of managing relationships, politics, and image. Gaining managerial support and managing up; getting buy-in from other departments, groups or individuals.

In addition to targeted, planned, formal development initiatives and training so that leaders can deal with and overcome these challenges, other means that rely on learning in a more social and informal way are also appropriate. The most frequently mentioned challenge is developing managerial effectiveness. This reflects the challenge of leaders to have a range of very specific skill such as time management, prioritization, and decision making.

So, what can leaders do?

1. Goal setting is critical

Be proactive in setting goals and with setting the timelines and deadlines required to meet those goals.

2. Delegate More

Delegation can make you more productive. The act of delegation cam also empower the people to whom you have given work.

3. Work on tasks that maximize your unique value-add

Among all the organizational priorities, there will always be important tasks that only you can do. These are the tasks on which you should focus. As a result, you will maximize your specific value to the company.

4. Gain some role clarity

Understand what your work does and does not entail. With that, you may have to practice and be comfortable saying “no.”

In our next blog, we’ll look at developing relationship skills that cover three of the challenges above: inspiring others, developing employees and leading a team. What do you think? Tweet us @abetterleader or email us at

Chris Craddock

As the leader of Projections' production team, Chris loves to inspire others to perform at the highest levels! From the most challenging leadership opportunities to brainstorming the latest topics leaders want to learn about, Chris provides clear direction and vision.