The Top 10 Complex Issues that Leaders are Facing, and Why Traditional Training Won’t Work.

The Top 10 Complex Issues that Leaders are Facing, and Why Traditional Training Won’t Work.

As the complexity of the business environment grows, leaders are facing even more demanding and unfamiliar challenges that are pervading the corporate landscape. Here are the top 10 issues that leaders of today most commonly face. As you read each issue, consider how you could prepare to solve them.

#1 – Complexity Over Simplicity

The world is changing at an ever-faster pace, thrusting leaders and their teams into constant uncertainty and making it harder for them to make decisions.
Hence, the issue here is to translate such complex trends into simple processes that your staff can understand and work upon.

#2 – Making Decisions Whilst Engaging the Team under Pressure

Making decisions is the most difficult job that a leader must do. Good leadership is characterised by good judgement and sound decision-making. Yet one thing that most leaders fail to notice and do, especially when under pressure, is engage their team in the decision-making process.

Not doing so instantly reduces staff morale, thus, limiting the opportunity for discussion and discovering alternative ways in which the problem may be solved.

#3 – Achieving Sustained Performance Improvement

Measuring performance has been a convoluted process since the beginning of the workplace structure. Leaders face a challenge in terms of identifying the right metrics to measure performance and the right type of incentives to drive performance improvement.

Not having a performance measure in place, is akin to having a race with no finish line. No matter how difficult it may be and blurred the finish line may seem, setting clear performance expectations will only encourage even greater results.

#4 – Increasing Diversity Whilst Maintaining a Harmonious Alignment

One of the biggest challenges that leaders are facing today involves diversity in the workplace. This is because a diverse workforce brings all kinds of different views and ways of working.

With increasing globalization, diversity is an inevitable fact. As such, aligning different attitudes and behaviors so that they are congruous with the overall objectives of the company can be quite a task.

#5 – Managing Millennials

Leaders are facing an increasingly challenging issue associated with managing millennials. This is because millennials can tend to have a very different mindset to what the company is pursuing as an objective.

In addition, it requires more than just good pay to keep millennials satisfied and engaged. They want professional development along with increased responsibility so that they can be allowed to make a genuine impact in the organization in which they work.

#6 – Creating a Culture Where ‘Soft’ Skills are Hard to Do

Measuring soft skills is another issue that leaders currently face. Indeed, it can be difficult to measure the impact of being more collaborative and considerate whilst working in a team.

Fostering a culture where soft skills can be learnt and developed will positively result in an organization that is ready to innovate and take on new challenges.

#7 – Encouraging Adaptability to Change

As mentioned earlier, we live in a world that is constantly changing. It goes without saying that organisations that fail to adapt and maneuver their way across the ever-changing playing field, are most likely phased out of the intense competition.

The issue, however, is to encourage your team to accept change. Communicating the benefits of adapting to change can be difficult and making everyone align their objectives with those of the company can indeed be a challenging task.

#8 – Handling New Technology

Companies that rely on age-old techniques of doing business may not go very far in terms of breaking into the market.

With technology evolving at an incredibly fast pace, it is essential for leaders to adopt the latest technologies and employ them in their business in the most efficient manner.

This can, however, create a skills shortage, as not everyone on the team may be tech-savvy.

#9 – Fostering an Entrepreneurial Spirit

Gone are the days where workers were only expected to do the task they were given and not question the top management. In the 21st century, all of this has changed and a workforce that is not able to think outside the box, will no longer be able to drive the organisation further, nor remain competitive.

Consequently, in today’s current climate, leaders are finding it quite difficult to foster a culture of entrepreneurship in employees, whilst trying to reduce retention rates at the same time.

#10 – Environmentally Conscious

It has been reported that millennials prefer to not work in organisations that disregard the impact of their operations on society.

As such, leaders today need to ensure that their decisions are bringing a positive change in society and are not just to increase profits at the expense of the environment.

So why can’t traditional programs prepare leaders for these complex issues?

None of these complex issues can be solved through one program, an MBA or a degree.

I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything.So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.

~ Larry King

The need is for a leader to be able to identify and connect the tools and skills acquired from different sources and programs experienced over the years, to then create the ideal team, environment, systems and culture to be able to solve any issues. This is a perfect example of why business schools use case studies, but we must acknowledge them for what they are, case studies, not the real world of the leader.

Issues based learning is about identifying the challenges being faced today and at this very moment and building the toolkit of thinking and skills to be able to effectively solve them. Imagine how many opportunities there are to create your own personalised toolkit, built over years of active and reflective learning from challenges. This is the future of personal leadership development.

Can you think of any other issues that leaders are facing today? If so, please let us know at

Written by Ben Larkey


Ben Larkey is one of Australia’s most versatile and experienced leadership and sales development professionals. As the founder and head facilitator of Learning Republic and Issues Based Learning™, Ben has more than 25 years experience working with individuals and companies that shape our world.


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