More than a third (36%) of the UK’s senior business leaders, including owners, C-Level executives and board directors, are considering a change of role in the next 12 months, according to new research from LHH, a leading global talent development and career solutions company.

The survey of over 1,000 business leaders across the globe, including in the UK, suggests that the pressure created by a myriad of external and internal challenges is taking its toll on executive wellbeing, leaving many considering job changes in 2024.

External headwinds are contributing to sustained pressure on C-suite and other executives. In addition to ongoing economic uncertainty and market volatility (30%) and environmental and sustainability challenges (29%), onboarding disruptive technology, including AI, was cited as the biggest external challenge for more than a quarter (28%) of executives.

In tandem, leaders are dealing with an abundance of internal challenges. The top three, cited by UK executives, include managing stakeholder expectations (26%), digital transformation (25%), and retaining top talent (24%). Around a fifth also described organisational culture (22%) and fostering diversity equity and inclusion (22%) as their biggest internal challenges.

Against this backdrop, a staggering 54% of business leaders say they currently feel overworked and burnt out and 36% are considering a change of role, direction or retirement this year.

Results suggest that a skills deficit on senior leadership teams could be exacerbating these issues. Only a small majority (54%) of business leaders feel their organisation has the leaders it needs to overcome current and future challenges, and around a quarter (24%) are struggling to manage the performance of underperforming senior colleagues.

Close to one in four feel their senior leadership team is lacking key skills, including adaptability and change management skills (24%), strategic thinking and decision-making capabilities (22%), and effective communication and interpersonal skills (22%).

However, only 21% said their organisation provides leadership skills development for senior executives. Even fewer said that executive peer mentoring (18%) or 360-degree performance evaluations (15%) were provided for their senior team. Nearly two thirds (62%) want more leadership support options to be made available to them.

Frances Cook, MD, ICEO LHH UK and Ireland, commented: “2024 is already proving itself to be a challenging year for businesses. While there are signs of economic recovery globally, technical recession is still a threat in the UK. This, alongside ongoing supply chain uncertainty, skills shortages and disruption from emerging technologies, means business leaders are still operating in the midst of external uncertainty, all while trying to address internal talent and skills challenges. It’s clear that the combination of sustained pressure and a lack of support is taking its toll.

“Therefore, it’s essential for organisations to proactively address this if they wish to develop and nurture the knowledge, experience and expertise of current leaders. Companies should implement tailored support for leaders from the very start to ensure they have effective career growth as soon as they start their role. Ongoing leadership skills development, executive coaching and mentoring, as well as career strategy or management support, are all critical for establishing – and maintaining – high performing senior leadership teams that are equipped for success.”