Adaptability: The pace of change in today’s world is unprecedented. Leaders must be able to adapt to new technologies, market conditions, and global events. They need to be open to new ideas and flexible in their approach to problem-solving. The only thing that is inevitable is change. It is optional for leaders to grow.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Bloom.

Anne effectively leads talent, culture, and business operations with expertise in building strategy, transformation, innovation, and growth in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. She is a trusted, forward-thinking advisor, coach and consummate relationship manager who builds cultures of inclusivity, diversity, equity, and collaboration to help businesses succeed. Anne works closely with business leaders to achieve timely results, minimize risk, and ensure compliance in all areas. Her experience as an HR consultant and executive provides a strong template for success in future-executive coaching, interim and HR Project work.

Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

I am building a new business strategy that includes working with leaders in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) and environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG). Both areas lead to personal and professional growth and to ensuring the success of organizations as they work towards building engagement with customers and providing a collaborative working environment for staff.

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

Throughout my career, I have had many leaders that have been mentors who became friends. I remain in contact with many of them. It is hard to narrow it down to just one. Early in my career, I had the privilege of working closely with an outstanding HR leader — Tilo Blankenfeldt. I recall that I was going through some health issues, and not only did he listen to me and ask how I was doing, but he made it OK for me to talk to him, express feelings and know that I was in a comfortable setting. He was a true leader, way ahead of his time and set wonderful examples of what it meant to lead with empathy. He taught me the importance of being a leader that people will look up to. He taught me to listen, not pass judgement, make HR a safe haven and allow people to be themselves. He was truly inspiring as a person and as a leader.

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

This question opens a floodgate of memories some of which may be best left undisturbed. I do understand this is for learning, though, so here goes.

It was late on a Friday, and I wanted to go home. I had just finished a call with an employee who was having some work issues with her manager. We spent a little over an hour talking about steps to take, conversations to have and how to best deal with what could be a volatile situation. After the call, I didn’t take a few minutes to send a heads-up email to my manager. Had I taken those few moments, I would have stopped what was to happen on Monday morning. Unknown to me, the employee’s manager had spoken to my manager and steps were being taken to release her after the weekend. The sharing of my conversation through an e-mail to my manager could have prevented the loss of an employee who was considered a top employee by all others in the company. It was later determined that the employee’s manager wanted to bring in a friend whom he trusted to do the work.

There was a lack of open, honest, and transparent communication. It was a lesson that was learned by myself, my manager, and our whole department. Collectively we learned to ask more probing questions, and not let the time of day, day of the week, or circumstances guide what we should be doing. Don’t be railroaded into doing something (i.e., terminating an employee) that you know seems wrong. Trust your gut or that little person sitting on your shoulder — they are rarely wrong.

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

When I started in my career, being a leader in some offices meant that you ruled with an iron fist, you told and ordered rather than discussed or asked. Leaders sat in their offices and expected people to come to them. Leaders were expected to make all decisions without trusting their employees as knowledgeable, smart people who understood what clients needed.

Because of the pandemic and the change in business process (work from home, hybrid) and employee expectations, effective leaders in today’s world should exhibit some if not all the following traits:

  1. Adaptability: In a rapidly changing environment, leaders must be flexible and open to new ideas. They should adapt to new technologies, market trends, and unexpected challenges.
  2. Emotional Intelligence: Understanding and managing one’s emotions and those of others is crucial. Empathy, self-awareness, and the ability to build strong relationships are hallmarks of emotionally intelligent leaders.
  3. Communication Skills: Clear and transparent communication is essential for leading diverse and remote teams. Leaders need to be adept at conveying their vision, providing feedback, and listening actively.
  4. Vision: A compelling vision inspires and aligns a team. Leaders should have a clear sense of purpose and be able to articulate their vision to motivate others.
  5. Resilience: Leaders must weather setbacks and keep their teams motivated during tough times. Resilience helps leaders bounce back from adversity and lead by example.
  6. Inclusivity and Diversity: Fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace is crucial. Leaders who value and promote diversity can leverage the richness of different perspectives and experiences.
  7. Accountability: Leaders must take responsibility for their decisions and actions. Holding themselves and their teams accountable fosters a culture of trust and responsibility. It is okay to be wrong and make mistakes, we are human, and it happens. Just own it.
  8. Adherence to Ethics and Values: Ethical leadership is increasingly important. Leaders should uphold high ethical standards and ensure their organizations act responsibly and with integrity.
  9. Tech Savviness: As technology plays an ever-growing role in business and society, leaders need to be tech-savvy or have a strong understanding of how technology impacts their industry and organization.
  10. Empowerment: Effective leaders empower their teams by delegating authority, trusting their employees, and providing opportunities for growth and development.

It’s important to note that leadership is not one-size-fits-all, and effective leaders often possess a unique combination of these traits that align with their organization’s culture and context. It should also be noted that leaders need to have a global perspective, utilize data-driven decision-making, collaborate, and continuously learn. Furthermore, leadership is a journey of growth and development, and leaders should strive to continually refine and adapt their traits to meet the evolving demands of the modern world.

Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?

I used to lead by telling instead of trusting. I learned several years ago that leadership is more about asking, not telling. Leaders need to understand their employees and mentees and need to ask what they would do in a situation rather than telling thow to handle them. I learned to trust the reasons I hired an employee and trust they can and will get the job done. If they have concerns or questions, my door is always open. But I also want them to come to the discussion with possible solutions. As a leader, I now ask “How would you handle this situation?” We talk about possible solutions that are right for the company, the department, and the employees. Decisions are made collaboratively. As a leader, I never tell an employee how to solve a solution. I ask for opinions and expect an open dialogue. Decisions will be decided collaboratively. This helps build leadership behaviours and sets people up for success, and growth and instills a sense of belonging.

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?


The rapidly changing global landscape, advances in technology, and shifts in societal values have made adaptability a crucial trait for effective leaders. Here’s why:

  1. Navigating Uncertainty: The world is more uncertain than ever, with factors like pandemics, economic volatility, and geopolitical tensions. Leaders who can adapt quickly to changing circumstances can guide their teams and organizations through turbulent times.
  2. Technological Advances: Technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace, impacting industries and business models. Leaders need to be tech-savvy and willing to embrace new tools and approaches to stay competitive.
  3. Diverse Workforce: Modern organizations are increasingly diverse in terms of culture, age, ethnicity and background. Leaders must adapt their leadership styles to effectively manage and engage a diverse and inclusive workforce.
  4. Remote Work: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to remote work. Leaders who can adapt to managing remote teams and promoting productivity and well-being in virtual environments are more likely to succeed.
  5. Environmental Concerns: Sustainability and environmental consciousness are becoming central to business operations. Leaders who can adapt their strategies to incorporate environmentally responsible practices can gain a competitive edge.
  6. Customer Expectations: Customer preferences are constantly changing. Leaders who can adapt their products, services, and customer experiences to meet evolving expectations are more likely to thrive.
  7. Globalization: In a globalized world, leaders must adapt to different markets, cultures, and regulations. Understanding and adapting to international contexts is essential for leaders in many industries.
  8. Ethical Leadership: Ethical considerations are increasingly important for organizations. Leaders need to adapt by promoting and upholding ethical standards within their organizations.
  9. Mental Health Awareness: There is a growing awareness of mental health issues in the workplace. Leaders need to adapt by fostering a supportive and empathetic work environment.
  10. Continuous Learning: Leaders must model a commitment to lifelong learning and adapt their knowledge and skills to stay relevant in their fields. This also is relevant for all employees leading to both personal and professional growth.

Adaptability involves being open to change, learning from experiences, and adjusting strategies, behaviors, and approaches as circumstances evolve. Leaders who exhibit adaptability inspire trust and confidence in their teams, making them better equipped to tackle the challenges of today’s world and beyond.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

The past is but a memory. Let it go. What worked in the past will not meet expectations in today’s world. Employees expect leaders to exhibit humanistic traits of empathy, listening, and compassion. In grade school, we were taught the Golden Rule — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This rule is more important today in meeting the expectations of all people. Leaders need to change with the times to be relevant.

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

During COVID-19, many leaders were promoted to their current jobs without the benefit of training I would encourage all leaders to learn/develop along with their employees. Being a leader is an inherent trait, yet some people need to develop this trait to be successful. The behaviours listed above that leaders should possess today are important for new leaders to develop. New leaders today can’t have an ego. Leave it at the door. Be human, treat people fairly, and instill a culture of learning, growth, acceptance, and adaptability.

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now?

Leaders today need to exemplify a wide range of traits, but the following five are particularly important in today’s modern world:

  1. Adaptability: The pace of change in today’s world is unprecedented. Leaders must be able to adapt to new technologies, market conditions, and global events. They need to be open to new ideas and flexible in their approach to problem-solving. The only thing that is inevitable is change. It is optional for leaders to grow.
  2. Emotional Intelligence: Empathy, self-awareness, and the ability to connect with others on an emotional level are crucial traits for leaders today. Understanding and managing one’s emotions and those of their team members helps build strong relationships and fosters a positive work environment. Leaders need to be cognizant that people are all different. We need to treat employees as the individuals they are and help them meet their potential.
  3. Resilience: Leaders often face significant challenges and setbacks. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, learn from failures, and maintain a positive attitude in the face of difficulties. Resilient leaders inspire their teams to persevere and stay focused on goals. I learned a long time ago to own up to my mistakes. We all make mistakes. Accepting that builds resilience.
  4. Effective Communication: Communication skills have always been important for leaders, but in today’s digital age, the ability to convey ideas clearly and engage with diverse audiences is essential. This includes not only verbal communication but also written and digital communication. Communication needs to be open, transparent and honest.
  5. Value Inclusivity and Diversity: In an increasingly global and interconnected world, leaders need to value and promote diversity in their teams. Inclusivity means not only embracing different backgrounds and perspectives but also creating an environment where all team members feel valued and included.

These traits are essential for leaders in today’s complex and dynamic business and social landscape. However, it’s important to note that effective leadership also involves a combination of other traits, such as vision, decisiveness, integrity, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. The relative importance of these traits can vary depending on the specific leadership role and context.

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.

This quote encourages me to approach each day with the intention of doing my best and making the most out of every opportunity. It emphasizes the importance of striving for excellence in all aspects of life, whether it’s in personal growth, work, relationships, or any other endeavor.

I strive for this in everything I do. Whether I am meeting new people, networking, completing an assignment, or working with colleagues, I strive to meet expectations. My goal is to continually improve my coaching and consulting practice. I recently attended a breakfast meeting where my networking goal was to leave that event having met at least three new people. When I met that goal, I knew I was having a good day and being successful.

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

My legacy has always been to leave this world better than when I landed here. I strive to do that by ensuring the people I deal with daily have a sense of my vision, purpose, ethics, and integrity. I am a person that is honest, open, and transparent and what you see is what you get. I empower others to be the best they can be through encouragement and positive thought. I build engagement, trust, and growth and believe in meaningful communication. I don’t hold grudges. Life is too short, and I strive to make each day meaningful and fun.

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

Anne Bloom is a consultant and coach with The Osborne Group — a dedicated group of executive consultants working in all facets of business. Anne can be reached on LinkedIn or at [email protected]

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!