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As we enter 2022, there is still a high degree of uncertainty surrounding what the new year will bring. Covid-19 continues to make its impact felt with leaders juggling staff absences with vaccination policy making, alongside the return to the office and the Great Resignation. As wellbeing and working through upheaval defined workplace trends in 2020 and 2021, what should leaders be focusing on doing to turn the dial towards growth and positive change in the months ahead?
1) Reclaim your focus and perspective to be a better leader
How do we slow down in a world that is speeding up?
Many studies inform us that the average worker is interrupted four to twelve times every hour. Life runs at an accelerated pace where we are bombarded with information to the point, we are unable to focus or think clearly. More speed and noise translate into less comprehension. They contribute to the creativity drain and prove detrimental to our perspective, reflection, and learning. Time and focus are being stolen and it is productivity levels and our ability to pay attention that are bearing the brunt.
To turn that around, the answer lies in learning to go slower, to go faster. Pre-Covid, the trend was for pace and overload, but humans only have a predefined cognitive bandwidth. The way many of us were operating, was akin to suffering from perpetual mental jet lag.
Patience is a new skill for leaders to discover. Slowness nurtures attention, while speed fragments it. In quietening down the distractions, letting go of what you can’t control and paying attention to what really matters, you are investing in developing perspective, resilience, and clarity of thought.
In adopting a coaching style of leadership these abilities all become part of the norm by setting boundaries, promoting self-care, helping form new behaviours and instilling better habits. It can open the door to greater absorption and deeper reflection, where experiences are converted into memories so that learning is ongoing. Your receptors to information are unlocked, enabling you to find more energy and focus so that decision making and goal setting fuels progress and positive change at an individual and organisational level. Also modelling these behaviours sets a strong example to employees and team members.
2) CEO - the compassionate empathetic officer
Leaders have all had to adapt in some shape or form during the pandemic and showing a more caring, human side has been significant in getting people through the Covid crisis. The human cost has been just as pronounced as the economic one, with grief, loss, burnout, and anxiety all acutely felt.
We have touched on the subject before and sensitivity, empathy and compassion are all gradually being built into the task of leadership. Leaders have been exposed to the complex inner lives of their people and this is now in the process of repatterning our consciousness.
The much-mooted move to egoless or humane leadership is a step closer because of recent world events. On the back of coronavirus, climate crisis, Black Lives Matter and the #metoo movement, the humanitarian style of leadership is gaining traction. Leaders will need to demonstrate compassion by taking actions such as listening more and being a caring presence if they are to stay on top of key business metrics for employee engagement and customer satisfaction and which now form the basis of many long-term corporate strategies.
3) “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
In the words of the great management thinker Peter Drucker, these pearls of wisdom predate the current focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. For Drucker, the purpose of organisations was to serve the best interests of society and community and this sentiment has never been more relevant.
Doing the right thing is no longer an ethical choice or a nice to have. It is a moral obligation, an employee expectation, and a customer demand. Not only must organisations be more socially conscious, but leaders need to start accepting responsibility to become social change agents too.
ESG is high on the CEO agenda with demands for action on climate, diversity, and inclusion, but social change leadership represents a real opportunity to put planet, people, and purpose at the very core of policy and decision making. Social change leadership theory is about creating change at personal, organisational, and societal levels and focuses on the what, how and why of leadership. Its founding principles of creating change, collaboration and civic leadership mean that leaders and their followers work together for the common good in delivering tangible and valuable benefits for the organisation and the eco systems they serve.
Effective leaders will seek answers about how to survive in rapidly changing and challenging environments. Their sense of self contributes to their ability to understand others and all these approaches promote a facilitative, empowering and enabling style of leading which will not only suit the purposes of organisations now, but well into the future too.
If you would like to discover more about coaching and training as a coach, do come along to one of our free upcoming virtual open events or webinars.
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