Our global leadership and board experts from around the world, look at the leadership talent trends and board challenges they expect to play out in 2024.
Against the backdrop of global geopolitical disruption, changing leadership working preferences and greater consideration in leadership hiring decisions, what will 2024 hold for the C-suite talent market and boardroom decision making?
Our predictions are drawn from a global network of business leaders and board directors, to provide relevant insights on future leadership hiring and boardroom dynamics.
Boards will look for ‘tried and tested’
Working practices and engaging and retaining employees have plagued organisations for the past three years with almost no resolutions. In 2024 companies will want leaders unafraid to tackle these challenges head on and deliver real solutions. Part of this, is being a ‘future fit’ leader. When hiring, companies are now asking, ‘is this leader the right person for the next five years?’
As a result, companies are making delayed or more meticulous leadership hiring decisions – a trend which will continue into 2024.
The shifting political environment will influence leadership hiring and impact diversity in senior leadership teams in 2024. Major leadership elections take place this year, which may see nations take significant U-turns in their geopolitical outlook – the fallout could mean more isolationist, anti-globalisation agendas. Combined with supply chain challenges and events in the Middle East, companies face continued disruption and unpredictability. In such an environment, boards look for ‘tried and tested’, rather than hiring based on talent and potential. If this plays out, we’ll see less progress in leadership team diversity, with boards reverting to ‘what they know.’
Conversely, some boards will struggle to hire quality leadership talent in 2024. Regional companies in particular face increasing difficulties to attract leaders that would have once relocated, even partially for two or three nights a week away from home. Rising rented accommodation costs and the desire for greater work-life-balance makes relocating to regional business far less attractive. In 2024, finding high quality leadership talent in a ‘reluctant’ market will be a challenge for many businesses, compounded by the need to find leaders capable of medium to long-term success. To attract and retain these hesitant senior candidates, there are several methods leadership teams can employ.
Managing uncertainty will dominate boardroom agendas
Continued inflation and diminishing investment opportunities will be major topics on the boardroom agenda this year. In particular, financial strategy will be a big ticket item for a broad range of companies. A significant number of deals failed to go through in 2023, many companies are sitting on low valuations, and a lot of IPOs did not take place. Maintaining investor confidence, and raising finance to fund growth will be key actions, and we’re likely to see many companies play cautiously and hold onto cash.
Succession is another key agenda item. Market dynamics and increasing leadership challenges are seeing boards focus on improving their succession to find leaders fit for the future. Particularly with stakeholders demanding more thorough and sustainable leadership succession, boards are ensuring they have emergency CEO cover, determining how long they would need this for, and whether they can deliver the right successor, and at the right time.
Digital – specifically AI – is regularly discussed by boards. We’ll see boards asking whether they have the right leadership talent in place to capitalise on AI opportunities and mitigate cyber security and regulatory risks. Ensuring organisations are agile enough to transform and respond to AI developments, while maintaining data security, will also be front of mind.
Likewise, sustainability will present challenges and opportunities.
Consumer purchasing trends demonstrate a clear and growing demand for sustainability, but 2024 will see boards grapple with several major challenges.
Increased regulatory scrutiny on sustainability claims is likely to require more time investment at board level and more cautious branding and marketing decisions. Financial constraints will also drive boardroom decision making around sustainability. Almost two-thirds of boards believe sustainability has no impact on financial performance, yet over half are acting on sustainability because ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ If operating costs rise, and investment dries up, boards are likely to spend more time on how they drive sustainability in such a difficult environment.
Uncertainty will dominate much of the year. As a result, boards will become far more selective in their choice of leader and fellow board members. Individuals who can thrive in this environment, embrace digital disruption, and unite businesses with a collective medium to long-term vision will be instrumental in navigating a changing business landscape.
Get in touch. Follow the links below to discover more, or contact our dedicated leadership experts from your local Odgers Berndtson office here.
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