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5 big themes from 2023

Dec 14, 2023


This is my final post for 2023... which seems a good opportunity to distil and share 5 big themes I’ve observed this year in my work with leaders and their teams. 

(It's also your last chance for the year to sign up for TeamX as a founding member… but more on that below. 😉 )

These 5 themes kind of build on one another, and I could easily write a whole post on any one of them.  

  1. Leadership is a daily choice. There’s a big difference between those who are caught up ‘doing the work’ and ‘delivering results’ and those who are clear about the kind of impact they want to make as a leader. This has always been the case, but it’s more important now than ever, because people’s ’to do’ lists seem to be getting bigger by the day. Delivering results matters, of course. But leadership requires you to rise above today’s deliverables, and to shape the longer game. That’s not optional; it can’t wait for your annual planning day. Your work as a leader is a daily choice.   

  2. Leaders help people to see a bigger future. By definition, to be a leader, you need to be helping others to go somewhere. Following on from the first theme, true leaders are those who show up asking, “what could tomorrow look like?”  You don’t need to have the answer to that question yourself, so long as you help your team to see what’s possible and create a shared picture of where they are headed.  

  3. It takes courage to empower a team. I have a love/hate relationship with the word “empowerment”. Aside from the fact it’s been over-used and, as a result, feels clichéd - it’s also a bit patronising. After all, aren’t people already empowered, until organisations do a whole heap of stuff that is fundamentally disempowering?

    What we’re really talking about is creating an environment that not just allows, but expects, people to bring their full selves to their work. That takes tremendous courage, first because leaders need to be brutally honest about all the ways they get in the way (often with the best of intentions) and then because you need to do enough ‘letting go’ to build a team that shares power. This usually requires a leader to start by asking themselves the question: where should the power sit in my team?

  4. Silos are a symptom. Leaders are becoming increasingly aware that silos aren’t just a function of teams or leaders isolating themselves from the rest of the organisation. Rather, they are a symptom of something bigger: a failure to see how real value could be co-created through collaboration, and why that really matters. That failure is not simply at a local level - it often stems from the most senior leadership teams and the way they articulate strategy and measure success. So here’s the opportunity: build a story of how and where cross-team co-creation is the key to your collective success.    

  5. Meetings aren’t the real problem. It’s easy to complain about the number of meetings we spend our time in; we’re punch drunk with the things (especially when they're poorly conceived and run). A lot of leaders are switching on to the bigger issue, though, and it flows on from the previous theme: we don’t have a shared picture of how to do ‘smart’ collaboration as an organisation. This is as much about when and how to say no, as it is about what collaboration can look like without meetings. (Imagine that!)

Which of these resonate with you? What would you add to the list? 


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