Business Leadership Today

McKinsey’s Leadership Development Trends for 2024


Matt Tenney, Author of Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process

As the world of business keeps changing at a breakneck pace, one thing remains constant: leadership development is as vital as ever

In fact, it’s more essential than ever before to stay ahead of the curve and develop the skills necessary to lead and inspire in an age of rapid technological advancements, shifting workforce priorities, a fluctuating, unpredictable economy, and significant social change. 

As we progress through 2024, it’s essential to understand the emerging trends—particularly the ripple effects of generative artificial intelligence (AI)—shaping this domain if we want to remain agile and adaptable while navigating significant change.

McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, has been at the forefront of identifying these emerging trends. The firm recently identified trends that will have implications for leadership and leadership development, which organizations will need to focus on to respond to these trends and remain (or become) successful.

McKinsey’s leadership development trends for 2024 include the continued impact of generative AI, quick wins with AI implementations, and the renewed importance of managers in the organizational hierarchy. McKinsey has also identified the top priorities for CEOs in 2024.

This article will delve into McKinsey’s insights on leadership development trends for 2024 and their implications.

The Growing Impact of Generative AI

Generative AI is revolutionizing the workplace in unprecedented ways. As we navigate through 2024, the influence of this technology is becoming increasingly evident. 

Generative AI, with its ability to create new content and ideas, is transforming how organizations manage and develop their talent.

Human Resources (HR) functions are at the forefront of this transformation. They are identifying relevant use cases for generative AI, such as personalized learning and development programs, automated talent acquisition, and predictive analytics for employee performance. 

These applications are not only enhancing efficiency but also enabling a more personalized and engaging employee experience. However, the advent of generative AI is also necessitating changes in roles and the development of new skill sets.  

As AI takes over routine tasks, employees will be required to hone their soft skills and engage in more complex problem-solving and strategic tasks. There is also a growing need for skills to manage and work alongside AI, such as understanding AI outputs and ethical considerations.

Generative AI is not just a tool but a game-changer in talent management. Its impact is far-reaching, influencing how we recruit, develop, and retain talent. As we continue to explore its potential, one thing is clear—generative AI is here to stay, and it’s reshaping the future of work.

Quick Wins with AI

The integration of AI in various teams, including HR, has resulted in immediate improvements, signaling the start of a new era in organizational efficiency. AI has streamlined many processes, such as recruitment and performance management, resulting in significant time and cost savings. 

AI’s data-driven insights have also enabled teams to make more informed decisions, enhancing the overall effectiveness of their strategies. One prime example of a successful AI implementation is Walmart’s Me@Campus initiative

This initiative uses AI to provide potential hires with a virtual tour of Walmart’s campus, offering them an immersive experience of the company’s work culture and environment. The initiative has not only improved Walmart’s employer branding but also made the recruitment process more engaging and efficient. 

The benefits of AI are evident, and organizations that have embraced AI are already reaping its rewards, setting an example for others to follow. As we move forward, these benefits are expected to multiply and further cement AI’s transformative role in both our personal and professional lives.

“The Year of the Manager” (and the Implications for 2024)

According to McKinsey, 2023 was “The Year of the Manager.” Managers are playing an increasingly important role in helping organizations navigate through various transitions brought about by technological advancements, particularly AI. 

Managers are at the forefront of managing these changes, ensuring that their teams adapt effectively and fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation. 

They guide their teams through change, provide support, and ensure that everyone has the necessary skills to succeed. Managers also play a vital role in maintaining team morale and productivity during times of uncertainty. 

The year 2023 marked a renewed appreciation for the role of managers, with organizations recognizing the complexity and importance of their roles. As a result, they are investing more in leadership development, acknowledging the significant impact that managers have on team performance and overall business success. 

The role of managers is evolving, and they are no longer just supervisors; they are leaders, mentors, and change agents. 

With the future of work constantly changing, the success of any organization in this era of rapid technological advancement will undoubtedly be heavily influenced by the effectiveness of its managers.

2024 CEO Priorities

CEOs are facing a unique set of challenges and opportunities in 2024. McKinsey has identified eight key priorities for CEOs this year. 

These include:

  1. Leveraging generative AI across business operations and scaling its applications
  2. Outcompeting with technology by fundamentally rewiring organizations to extract maximum value from digital transformations
  3. Navigating the energy transition, which represents a significant capital reallocation
  4. Identifying and leveraging organizations’ unique strengths
  5. Appreciating the critical role of middle management
  6. Ensuring resilience against geopolitical disruptions
  7. Driving continuous growth
  8. Navigating the complexities of a fluctuating macroeconomy

One of the critical tasks for CEOs is identifying which parts of the business can benefit from AI. This requires a deep understanding of their business processes and a vision for how AI can enhance these processes. 

Whether it’s improving customer service with chatbots or optimizing supply chains with predictive analytics, the potential applications of AI are vast.

However, implementing AI is not a one-time task. CEOs need to figure out how to scale AI applications across the organization. This involves building the necessary infrastructure, upskilling employees, and fostering a culture that embraces change.

CEOs need to understand how AI and other new tools will reshape their industry. This requires staying abreast of technological advancements and understanding their implications. It also involves envisioning new business models that leverage these technologies.

The role of the CEO in 2024 is more complex and challenging than ever. However, those who can effectively manage these priorities will be well-positioned to lead their organizations into a future defined by innovation, efficiency, and growth.

2024: A Pivotal Year for Leadership Development

The year 2024 is significant for leadership development due to the emergence of generative AI. 

CEOs are focusing on leveraging AI and preparing for its industry-wide implications.

Leaders in every field are realizing that this technology is transforming talent management and can be implemented with quick wins, such as Walmart’s Me@Campus initiative. 

After some setbacks during the pandemic, the role of managers has been renewed and appreciated, as they play a vital role in managing transitions and taking care of their teams. 

These trends are shaping the future of leadership development and setting the stage for the future of work. The role of leaders at all levels will become more complex and crucial, and the future of leadership development lies in embracing these changes and fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation.

Matt Tenney has been working to help organizations develop leaders who improve employee engagement and performance since 2012. He is the author of three leadership books, including the groundbreaking, highly acclaimed book Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process.

Matt’s ideas have been featured in major media outlets and his clients include numerous national associations and Fortune 500 companies.

He is often invited to deliver keynote speeches at conferences and leadership meetings, and is known for delivering valuable, actionable insights in a way that is memorable and deeply inspiring.

Others Recent Articles and Podcast Episodes