Our researchers went straight to the source to answer these questions, gathering input from 763 middle- and executive-level leaders in organizations from Nigeria, China, Egypt, India, Singapore, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S.
Our study found these leaders consistently face the same 6 challenges — even if they describe their challenges and specific context in different ways.
1. Developing Managerial Effectiveness is 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 is the challenge of inspiring or motivating others to ensure they are satisfied with their jobs and working smarter.
3. Developing Employees is the challenge of developing others, including mentoring and coaching.
4. Leading a Team is 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 is 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’ reactions to change.
6. Managing Internal Stakeholders and Politics is 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.
Knowing that these challenges are common experiences for middle and senior managers is helpful to both the leaders and those charged with their development, according to our researchers.
Individuals can benefit from knowing their experiences as leaders are more similar than different and can feel more confident in reaching out to others to help them learn and face these challenges.
Here are 4 concrete things leaders can do to address these common challenges:
- Set goals. Be proactive in setting goals, and the timelines and deadlines required to meet them.
Delegate more. Delegating can make you more productive. The act of delegation can also empower your colleagues to take more ownership.
Maximize your unique value. Among all the organizational priorities, there will always be important tasks that only you can do. These are the tasks you should focus on. As a result, you’ll maximize your specific value to the organization. Everything else, try to delegate.
Gain some role clarity. Understand what your work does and doesn’t entail. Be comfortable saying “no.”