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Leadership Trends for 2023

I believe that 2023 will be different.

Since the late 2019, organisations, entrepreneurs and leaders have been thrusted in the deep end of putting out fires. For nearly three years we have been in a reactive, quick thinking and immediate decision-making mode.

This has progressed businesses in some areas, like digital transformation and supply chain management. However, it has also distracted us from long-view thinking and impact creation, while depleting our prime energy, which has been absorbed by daily disruptions.

While there will still be bags of uncertainty and challenges to address, I foresee 2023 being a year of opportunity to fully step into and fill those leadership shoes. A vital part of this process will be rethinking, reframing and expanding our perception of the leadership "superpowers” and embracing the changing nature of the role.

Here are three major shifts that I believe will set apart the leader from the Leader.

NB: By ‘the Leader’ here is meant an individual of no determined status, background or seniority, who instead of being followed, strives to imagine and co-create the future together.

1. From active listening to courageous listening

For years I have been told that I am a good listener. In fact, I have built my business as a strategist and coach by doubling down on this skill.

However, to me, being a good listener, isn’t about sitting opposite someone, while nodding my head and offering a sympathetic smile. Ultimately, being seen to be listening. Instead, I believe that the foundation of a productive and impactful exchange is a psychologically safe setting for courageous conversations. And to me courageous conversations are more about courageous listening.

As a leader you have heard all about active listening: maintaining eye contact, nodding your head in acknowledgement, mirroring back to what you’ve heard and understood. While these are all important skills, on the face value, active listening can feel artificial and create a perception of listening than demonstrate actual listening.

Courageous listening is going a step further and an inch deeper. It requires you to engage in conversations with no outcome in mind, no judgement and no urge to defend your side. It takes humility and granting yourself the permission to not have all the answers and to lean into the discomfort that comes with it.

Courageous listening enables you to:

  1. Create stronger connections with your employees and stakeholders by centering stories other than yours.

  2. Face and uncover your biases and ‘blind spots’, which fosters better informed decision making.

  3. Invite views that you don’t necessarily understand or agree with, helps you to build resilience, and allows you to be a better ally and sponsor for the most marginalised and underserved talent in your organisation or community.

  4. Develop your emotional intelligence, as encouraging and surrendering to brave conversations requires you to explore and manage your emotions.

When leaders tell me they “just don’t know how to respond” to something, I tell them to take that as an open invitation to double down on curiosity and courageous listening.

2. From cultivating authority to cultivating trust

Trust will be another major theme in 2023. EY’s Belonging Barometer 2.0 revealed that of more than 5,000 workers surveyed across Brazil, China, Germany, the UK and the US, 82% of respondents expressed feelings of isolation at work, and 46% said that they were considering leaving their employer because of this.

When asked, what makes them feel connected, 56% of respondents named respect and trust as the key cornerstones.

Employees and customers are tired of greenwashing, lack of inclusion and justice, non-existing accountability and poor privacy and ethics practices to name a few. This is a call for greater transparency, collaboration and commitment. People won’t believe something any longer just because you said so. They will expect the receipts, so be ready to show them.

Trust isn’t something you can build overnight, especially considering the legacy most organisations come with and actively perpetuate. Cultivating trust requires humility to not know, and instead of assuming, asking what is that your people need to feel seen, supported and thrive.

People will want to see you getting your hands dirty and going deeper with them. If you are the only one standing in a clean shirt and freshly pressed suit telling the world how connected, inclusive and healthy your organisation is, when it is actively perpetuating harm, trauma and violence, be prepared for a public dressing-down. And save those tears.

3. From vanity metrics to measuring impact

Expectations are higher than ever, so good intentions that lead to harmful unintended outcomes will not be tolerated!

Leaders have tremendous influence in setting the tone for culture norms and behaviours and promoting progress. While assessing progress and ROI in business are important, 2023 will call for solid evidence on positive impact created over accepting vague vanity reports and metrics.

Remember: execution is the ONLY strategy your employees and consumers ever see.

Corporate Leadership training market is worth over $18bn and is growing nearly 8% year-on-year. Unfortunately, most of the leadership training programmes are based on prescriptive off-the-shelf methodologies of what leaders needs to be and do. Social media has only amplified this by skewing the definition of success with "How to become a 6-figure earner" and "These are 7 things successful leaders do" narratives.

These are problematic for a number of reasons, with the most obvious being that:

  1. the "successful leaders" of yesterday, not necessarily are the leaders we need today and going forward

  2. it narrows the measure of success to a specific $$$ figure

  3. instead of inviting us to step outside the box, creates new boxes for us to step into.

In 2023 we will see an increasing demand for impact stories above polished vanity metrics dished out by the Marketing and PR departments.

Above all...

I hope to see a shift in leadership as a notion.

We have quickly adopted “empathy” and “vulnerability” as the new key measures for a successful leader. While these are important tools in the leadership toolbox, they are also neuronormative tools.

There is an enormous untapped leadership potential in our neurodivergent colleagues, who will always be othered and feel like they do not belong in leadership spaces, if we only look at leadership through a neurotypical lens.

While these are my predictions based on my experience and observations from the leadership spaces I have been part of, one thing I know for sure about 2023 is that the leaders will become more visible and it will be their stakeholders, employees and communities, who will be the judges of their impact and therefore success as a leader.

All in all, there has not been a more critical and urgent time to step up your leadership skills and capabilities. None of these skills are built over night, so it is time to get intentional and proactive about investing in your leadership development.

As a leader in your own right, how are you planning to show up in 2023?


Expectations are higher than ever and leaders can no longer do without support.

Baiba coaches leaders how to intentionally design workplace cultures of inclusion and impact. Baiba works with start-ups, established global brands and government institutions across Europe and North America. Her aim is to eliminate culture as an elusive concept, and instead show how it is directly responsible for organisation’s growth, profitability and sustainability.

If you are committed to the success of your business and people – get in touch!


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