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Four Leadership Trends Emerging in 2024

An image representing leadership trends for nonprofits.

While leaders regularly evaluate how they are adjusting to different scenarios and skill sets, there are certain moments that serve as a natural time to reflect and set intentions for expanding one’s leadership toolkit.

In January, we asked nonprofit professionals to share their leadership goals for 2024.

One question we asked leaders to respond to was: What is your leadership word for the year? (The word that sums up a style or a quality you plan to prioritize as a leader.)

As we reviewed the many thoughtful responses to this question, four themes emerged:

  • Resilient Leadership
  • Authentic Leadership
  • Relational Leadership
  • Bold Leadership

Resilient Leadership

“Rock and roll and have fun through the challenges.”

— “Words to Lead By” survey respondent

Many leaders are expecting a renewal of challenges throughout 2024, and they note the importance of being nimble in the face of change. It is no wonder, then, that the concept of resilience stood out as the most prevalent theme in our survey.

Leadership words like adaptability, flexibility, and regenerate speak to an emphasis on embracing change and harnessing it for growth (both personal and professional), while words like poise, steady, and calm evoke the grounded self-assuredness that enables leaders to weather change without being controlled by it.

Resilient leadership is balanced leadership, knowing when to adapt and when to maintain continuity and consistency.

Authentic Leadership

“It means creating a sense of belonging, particularly for my new staff members.”

— “Words to Lead By” survey respondent

Authenticity was the single most common response in our survey. Today’s leaders find their true north in the alignment between their values and the values of their organizations.

Operating at the intersection of the personal and the professional, leaders show up as multi-dimensional people and treat team members as multi-dimensional people as well. Doing so boosts employee engagement and strengthens organizational culture.

Authentic leadership understands why diversity matters to an organization, even as it honestly acknowledges—and works to address—structural barriers to inclusion and belonging.

Relational Leadership

“When we practice empathy, we can come together to drive innovative solutions.”

— “Words to Lead By” survey respondent

Emotional intelligence endures as a touchstone of leadership. Judging from the responses to our survey, that trend will continue in 2024. Leaders in our survey understand the importance of maintaining perspective, seeing things from different perspectives, and fostering relational dynamics that build successful, cohesive workplace communities.

Relational leadership words included trust, empathy, and compassion, showing a deep appreciation for the space and support teams owe to each other, as well as reciprocity, the idea that leadership is a collaborative experience and that getting the best from teams means giving the best to them.

Bold Leadership

“It is time to disrupt the system and encourage others to join me.”

— “Words to Lead By” survey respondent

Finally, leaders in our survey recognized that, while leadership in 2024 will demand humility, authenticity, and empathy, it will also demand boldness and innovation. Bold leadership is proactive, requiring both the audacity to dream big, take risks, and make decisive moves toward one’s goals and the discernment to know when one should act in this way.

Leadership words like radical, rise, and wonder suggest leaders are cultivating a growth mindset grounded in creativity, optimism, and insight.

Whether you’re an established leader or are new to managing, it’s never too early or too late to reflect on the leader you are or could become.

Our “Words to Lead By in 2024” survey is still open, and we’d appreciate learning about your leadership reflections and intentions for the year.

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