After years of turbulence, the UK economy is once again facing financial strain, and businesses must weather the storm. In addition to challenging economic conditions and continued uncertainty, organisations are faced with changing social expectations of the way they do business and the way they treat employees.  

Now more than ever, organisations need talented leaders who can overcome hurdles, embrace change, and seize emerging opportunities. Given the constantly evolving business landscape over the last 12 months, which skills, competencies, and traits should organisations be looking for amongst leadership candidates in 2024?


Good leaders will be prepared to change strategy based on the environment and business conditions around them. Businesses are now seeking their next ‘new normal’ after the pandemic – often returning to the way things were but keeping the good developments that rose out of necessity, while balancing the expectations and needs of employees. At times like these, leaders need to assess the information at hand, make decisions, lead organisational change, and be prepared to adjust the plan if it is not working as expected.

When it comes to technology, the pace of change means leaders must stay on top of new developments, reviewing their merits and risks, and implementing those that add value to the business. With 86% of UK workers citing the importance of continuously learning new skills to progress in their career, according to our latest research, building a culture of continuous improvement is critical, and good leaders should be open-minded and willing to at the very least trial relevant technologies is more important than ever.

Sustainability and social responsibility  

Sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives are rising up the agenda once again, and businesses need to build these strategies in the face of incoming regulations, and public and employee sentiment. It is important that leaders believe in the initiatives and their impact, and a curious mindset is beneficial. Best practices are constantly in flux, and understanding why is essential for embedding them effectively in an organisation.  

With vast differences in legislation and regulation globally, leaders need good attention to detail to ensure that their businesses are compliant – or recognise the abilities of team members who can add value in this area. The ability to work across an organisation is an important skill when it comes to sustainability and DE&I initiatives, as they often require buy-in or feed-in from different departments.

Building effective partnerships

Where departments need to work together, leaders should be able to disseminate information to different audiences. Adjusting language, content, and detail based on who is in the room – be that senior colleagues, peers, or junior team members, with or without relevant expertise – is important to making sure pertinent information is understood and can be used effectively to drive the business forward.  

Establishing and maintaining trust is an important skill for leaders when it comes to business partnership and team management. It is the key to building lasting relationships that add value and increase transparency across the organisation, helping the organisation run more smoothly.  

Team management and development  

Employees – and their satisfaction, well-being, and training – are essential to running a successful business. Whether in-person or remotely, leaders should be regularly communicating with their teams, supporting employee growth, and identifying potential issues, such as burnout.  

To avoid it and the negative impact it can have on the organisation, leaders need to make sure their teams are not being overloaded. Recognising when employees are taking on too much, and balancing rewarding them for their effort with bringing in extra resource, requires good judgement.  

Understand a leader’s approach for continuous professional development can tell a lot about how they manage people. They may put employees forward for formal courses and training, but on-the-job training is just as important, if not more so. Leaders should show a willingness to create opportunities or delegate certain tasks to give employees room to grow.  

With more than three-quarters (78%) of workers agreeing that it is up to their employer to take the reigns on their development, leaders must invest in training to build a highly skilled workforce. When employees have the skills they need to do their jobs well, satisfaction increases, retention increases, and businesses are more likely to flourish.

Emotional intelligence  

The ability to perceive, express, and regulate emotions is perhaps the most important skill for engaging and motivating colleagues. A lack of empathy in leadership can create a toxic environment where employees feel unsupported and undervalued, leading to high turnover rates, low morale, and poor performance – all of which impact business performance.

Being aware of the feelings of others is one thing, but leaders must also be aware of their own. This includes the ability to manage emotions in difficult situations and being able to accept responsibility for mistakes. No one is infallible, and a leader’s ability to show humility, reflect and learn reveals a high level of emotional maturity that can do wonders for an organisation.

If your organisation is hiring for a leadership role, explore our services and start a conversation today.  

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