The top five challenges for leaders around the world

We wanted to know how leaders in businesses of all sizes were feeling. What were their fears? Their challenges? The things that consistently kept them awake at night or feeling unfulfilled?

We realised that they would be candidly sharing these challenges with one of their most trusted advisors – their coaches. So, we asked, and had replies from 141 coaches from around the world, who together coach thousands of leaders. Here’s some top level findings:

  • More than one in five coaches told us the biggest issue they were dealing with is “burnout and over-whelm” (21% of coaches)
  • “Self-confidence and negativity” was the biggest issue for 16% of coaches
  • 13% told us that ‘Collaboration & Culture” was the most consistent challenge they were seeing
  • Perhaps surprisingly, ‘work/life balance’ (11%) and “remote working” (10%) were down the list
  • A few coaches saw ‘Talent issues’ (6%), ‘Personal development’ (4%) and ‘Expectations’ (4%) as the key concerns of clients

Obviously, we didn’t ask them about specific clients. But we did ask them for a single theme that was raised most consistently during coaching.  One thing is clear, and that is leaders are being over-whelmed by uncertainty, unpredictability and relentless change.

These nine areas were identified by collating the wide ranging responses into themes. The answers that make up the themes are equally revealing.

So here are the top 5. You might be surprised, more likely you’ll resonate. Either way, it’s an interesting and perhaps comforting report.

Overwhelm and burn-out included replies such as overwhelm, burn-out, stress, anxiety, emotional pressures, lack of motivation, fatigue, exhaustion, and mental health challenges.

Within self-confidence and negativity we included lack of self-esteem, negativity, confusion, inconsistency, lack of purpose, lack of confidence, over confidence and a general sence of discouragement.

Pace of change was made up of replies such as constant change, speed of technological change, constant demand for innovation, dealing with change, disruption, climate change and the general speed of change.

A wide group of issues made up Collaboration and culture. These included the need to collaborate more, organisation and cultural challenges, values, empathy, managing up, kindness and the challenges of equality.

Work/Life balance was quite self-explanatory. It included issues such as work/Life balance, time and calendar management, challenges with prioritisation and an inability to concentrate or focus.

An inevitable theme was remote working, within which we grouped remote working, working from home, hybrid working, leading remote teams, virtual roles and “the new normal”.

Talent issues included talent recruitment and retention, lower engagement and dealing with team conflict.

The personal development theme included issues such as career development and progression, new skills and learning, career change and seeking help with finding purpose.

We created a broad group within the theme of expectations & accountabilities that covered areas such as business growth and resilience, winning and retaining clients, delivering against targets, the pressure to deliver results and accountability.

Do these resonate? What do you feel your main challenges are?



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