The 2023 Leadership Year In Review: The Year of Trust and Inclusion

4 Mins

The team at Rhabit Analytics analyzed over 600,000 feedback items collected in 2023 on the Rhabit platform.   We’ve put together an overview of our analysis to share key insights from our data on how leaders have improved this year, and what will need additional development as we move into the new year. We hope you’ll find this analysis interesting and helpful and you and your organization head into 2024. 

Inclusion and belonging are on the rise

The top leadership behaviors we measured in 2023 were slightly different from previous years, leaning more towards behaviors that established a sense of respect and belonging with their teams. With more companies investing in work culture, DEI initiatives, and other interpersonal initiatives, we’re seeing an interesting trend in those behaviors getting more positive feedback. 

Rhabit’s library of leadership behaviors focuses on key Habits (or competencies), with many organizations starting with Rhabit’s core habits of Communication, Building Trust, Fostering a Performance Environment, and Collaboration. We have found that these competencies contribute to stronger team dynamics, higher retention, as well as positive organizational outcomes.

The top 5 Rhabit Leadership Behaviors in 2023 were:

  1. Uses respectful language when setting expectations with team members (97%)
  2. Treats all people fairly and respectfully (95%)
  3. Ensures that team members can voice their opinions (93%)
  4. Listens Carefully to what others have to say (93%)
  5. Recognizes and values individual differences (92%)

Building Trust is Rhabit’s most improved leadership habit of 2023.

As a signal of a positive trend of more honest and transparent leadership, we discovered the Habit of Building Trust is most improved, with an average improvement of 6.7%.  This is important because since we’re using an average here, it means that over the entire distribution of performance, from the worst all the way to the best, everyone typically got a little stronger.  We saw some leaders jump as much as 15% individually, which is incredible given these are multisample longitudinal measures - we don’t measure all at once, and we measure from multiple feedback providers over time, so not only did these people get better as leaders, but they sustained this behavior change over time.  These behaviors are also staying elevated in the frequency that they’re observed, showing consistency in the behavior change sticking.

As a core Rhabit Habit, Building Trust consists of important interpersonal behaviors that create Trusting Relationships. In most working relationships, trust has to be earned, and these behaviors make deposits in the “interpersonal bank account” of two individuals.

Some example behaviors Rhabit measures for the Habit of Building Trust includes (but are not limited to) are:

  • Keeping commitments and promises
  • Explaining goals and objectives (not having a hidden agenda)
  • Giving credit to others for their contributions
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Asking for feedback on own performance

Another big point of improvement is Inclusive Leadership (+5.7%). While inclusive leadership is often a focal point of DEI efforts, any leadership relationship benefits from being inclusive in the sense of behaviors that make members of your team feel more accepted and welcome. In essence, inclusion creates an environment in which creativity and autonomy can thrive. 

Examples of behaviors measured in Rhabit for Inclusive Leadership are: 

  • Ensure that team members can voice their opinions without fear of negative consequences.
  • Makes team members feel like they are part of the group.
  • Makes team members feel heard and valued.
  • Ensures that team members treat each other in a friendly and respectful manner. 
  • Encourages others to express new ideas, even if these ideas are not fully developed.

We’re encouraged by these findings, as these behaviors are easy for most people, we often just fail to demonstrate them because of time pressure, stress, or carelessness. We assume that many leaders need to grow into this skill set, especially new leaders. These behaviors are often unrelated to the skills that employees mastered on their way to assuming leadership roles,so they have to be developed when being promoted into a leadership position. 

With feedback and self-awareness, leaders can actively work on growing these behaviors. Therefore, they are ideal habits to measure with Rhabit, as the platform is designed to increase self-awareness and provides real-time reporting to help leaders monitor their behaviors.

The big behavior opportunity for 2024: Leadership should focus on accountability.

According to Rhabit’s Chief Science Officer, Alexander Schwall, “So this is where things get interesting. While the interpersonal skills are strong the skills that drive productivity are lagging behind.” 

From these findings, we see our client organizations have achieved positive growth with interpersonal skills yet may require additional development in the habits that influence accountability and productivity. We’re monitoring this as a 2024 trend as we see organizations divert L&D resources from the “soft skills” of the pandemic to a more bottom-line-driven strategy moving toward 2025.

The Bottom 5 Leadership Behaviors in 2023 were:

  • Holds team members accountable for their performance (72%)
  • Closely tracks team’s performance (78%)
  • Sets clear performance goals for the team (80%)
  • Provides milestones to track progress toward strategic goals (81%)
  • Defines attainable timelines for strategic goals (85%)

The lowest Habit scores , while not egregious, left opportunities for improvement. Accountability and Performance shifted out of focus as companies had to reprioritize developing managers to be able to handle managing teams in very complex situations. We foresee 2024’s talent management strategies reintroducing performance behaviors, and Rhabit’s clients will be well poised with leaders possessing strong interpersonal skills to lead the charge. 

Our webinar, Creating Accountability, shares our research about the impact of Accountability and Building Trust on Employee Engagement. In our 2022 research for TALREOS, we discovered a strong correlation between these two habits and having a highly effective, engaged team. You can access the recording here.

Leaders Who Use Feedback For Leadership Development Are Well Poised For Success In 2024

Overall, we’re encouraged by the positive growth of leaders who use Rhabit’s feedback to improve their behaviors at work. Strong interpersonal skills are the bedrock of a successful leader, and we see the growth of Trust and Inclusion as the key indicators of the success Rhabit clients are achieving in their leadership development programs. If you would like to learn more about how Rhabit measures, reinforces and develops key leader behaviors, book a time to meet with the team. We’re happy to share more information about how we have gathered this data, how we advise our clients, and how the Rhabit platform gives leaders the tools they need to grow to achieve their strategic goals.

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