Leadership Shifts. Here’s a fact: no leader alive (or ever) has led through a pandemic that has collectively affected the entire globe and left a traumatic and dramatic aftermath in such an intensely acute period. Leaders are exhausted and depleted. All of us. Yet, every day the sun still rises and we must wake up and lead.
When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.
As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Erin Seheult.
Erin Seheult has always generally been a head taller than peers, which causes others to literally look up to her; as such, leadership is a natural interest. Her research uncovers a simple truth: good leadership is firmly rooted in healthy relationships, and the best relationships are summed up in a simple preposition: “with.” By day, Erin is a University Registrar, which is a fabulously nebulous occupation requiring creative solutions for messy problems; when she is not working on those problems, Erin enjoys blasting through life with her husband and two boys, while speaking and writing about practical ways to be “with.”
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.
I am thrilled to be involved in this key topic on the future of work. An event that stands out occurred in second grade. My teacher, whom I adored, approached me at the beginning of the school year and said a new girl was transferring in to our class, as her family had recently moved into our area. What my teacher said next still sticks in my mind. “Erin,” she half whispered, “you are a leader and I need you to be this girl’s friend.”
When she said I was a leader my mind began to spin, as I didn’t know what was expected of me as an 8-year-old leader. The concept of being a friend, however, was not scary. I knew how to do that. So, when the new girl arrived, I knew how to do what my teacher asked me to do. I knew how to be a leader.
The idea stuck with me, that leadership and relationships are intertwined, and now that I’m researching, writing, and speaking on leadership topics, I find it to be a foundational principle. I’m not saying leaders must be everyone’s friend — that is definitely not recommended for the leader’s sanity. What I am saying is relationships are the core of authentic leadership. We all know what good relationships look like, even if we haven’t been in one. Leadership is about being “with” those around us, about creating and maintaining trusting relationships where we come alongside each other and move through a situation fully invested. The experience in second grade gave me a cornerstone building block to use in leadership every day.
Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?
In May 2020, after the initial Covid-19 lockdown had been in effect for two months in the US, I posted three predictions:
- More people will choose to stay home than ever before.
- More people will know they need the physical office than ever before.
- More people will be convinced they need a career change than ever before.
By that point in the pandemic, people had enough time to slow down, think, and figure out what they enjoyed, needed, and wanted. It was clear the disruption of the usual busyness brought clarity to many and highlighted the fact that some portion of their pre-pandemic life was not fulfilling.
Now that life has progressed beyond the lock-down stage, I have morphed my predictions as follows:
- People who value staying home are looking for remote jobs, reviewing the ability to work for themselves, or crunching the numbers to see if they can quit altogether.
- People who value a physical office space are looking for flexibility.
- People who value being professionally fulfilled are looking for dependable ways to shift career gears.
The main thrust behind these predictions involves workers taking stock of their goals and values, contrasting it against their existing life experience, and identifying what they want to change. Surrounded with the miasma of illness and death, whether felt personally or not, people received straightforwardness of perception and the courage to follow their desires. This promises change in the future of work.
What Will Stay the Same
Work Basics: The foundations of work will likely stay the same: customer service standards, productivity needs, quality output, and the desire for good leadership. This translates to successful organizations continuing to pour into training and development. The format in which training and development will occur may change, yet the fundamental need will not change.
Wages & Benefits: Other things that will stay the same is the emphasis on compensation. People continue to need to feed and care for their family, and focus on compensation in the form of fair wages and benefits has moved into hyperdrive. It’s to the point that in my personal interviewing experience, candidates are unabashedly talking about pay expectations, when before it was tentatively broached only after they were offered the position.
What Will Change
Flexibility Expectations: The most obvious recent change is remote and hybrid work, and this is not going away in many fields. The workforce is expecting organizations to accommodate the ability to work remotely as much as possible. This means creating or purchasing systems to allow phones, emails, chats, and interactions to be addressed from anywhere in the world; this means creating processes without the use of or dependence on paper; this also means creating a budget for remote hardware supplies, such as ergonomic chairs, computers, headsets, webcams, and everything related to keeping people comfortable and connected.
I predict this expectation will likely cause new homes to be built consistently with an office, or at least a desk nook with a zoom-friendly background. Organizations interested in saving resources will review the need for physical buildings, at least with the current footprint used for office space, and move resources from physical buildings into providing a “work-from-home” technology package that includes ergonomic necessities, hardware, and stipends to cover personal phone and WIFI usage during work hours. Physical buildings may be reduced to a large conference room for in-person meetings, a few grouped work stations, and perhaps a front desk if in-person services remain an important service option.
Leadership Expectations: The Great Resignation shows people are no longer willing to keep their job if they do not find leadership satisfactory. In the month of December 2021 alone, about 3% of the workforce quit their jobs (https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/interactive-quits-level-by-year.aspx). The number of resignations continues to sustain averages never seen before. What are the top reasons for this migration? According to Pew Research, the reasons are (1) low pay, (2) no opportunities for advancement, and (3) feeling disrespected at work (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/03/09/majority-of-workers-who-quit-a-job-in-2021-cite-low-pay-no-opportunities-for-advancement-feeling-disrespected/). You’ll notice two out of three (and arguably three out of three) of the reasons people leave involve leadership decisions and behaviors. In short, the Great Resignation is speaking out against poor leadership.
Therefore, changes in the future workplace are not only to look at organizational structure and available resources, but also to focus on leadership capabilities and behaviors. Gallup identified years ago that 82% of managers are promoted incorrectly — meaning their previous work in their non-management roles was the reason cited to put them into management positions, rather than promoting them because of their ability to work with and for people (https://www.gallup.com/workplace/231593/why-great-managers-rare.aspx). The obvious solution is to find someone who can do the work, and is also capable of engaging and encouraging the people for whom they are responsible. Employees expect a lot from their leaders and they are speaking with their feet if a leader is not operating as he or she should.
Way organizations can set their leaders up for success are to answer the following questions (and perhaps more):
- How do we select leaders? Do we look at their leadership skills? Do we have a way to assess leadership skills?
- How do we onboard leaders? What support is available for new leaders?
- How are leaders mentored (new and experienced)?
- How is wisdom from more experienced leaders passed on to new leaders?
- What does accountability look like for leaders?
By answering these questions and more, organizations align themselves with the future of the workplace. Because what leaders do determine the future of the workplace.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
The future is always wrapped up in people. Organizations are made up of people. Success and failure ride on the shoulders and efforts of people. Without people, organizations cease. In order to keep employees into the future, work on their future together. This looks like development of everyone at all levels, especially leadership. At the risk of sounding redundant, pouring into the leaders and giving them tools to pour into their direct reports, who can in turn pour into theirs, etc. gives ability for people to see themselves as part of the organization in the future. If an employee can see how they intertwine with their organization in the future, there is a large predictability factor it will come true, Great Resignation or not.
What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?
We’ve talked about three main expectations of employees as we continue to navigate the global pandemic: (1) commensurate pay, (2) flexibility, and (3) leadership expectations. Some of the asks are big, some have been a long time coming, and some cannot logically coexist. An organization must review the expectations and determine which ones will be incorporated, and which will not.
The determining factors should include at least the following: (1) mission, (2) fiscal ability, (3) industry expectations. When reviewing the mission, if the institution is a non-profit the pay may not be able to be adjusted, but the flexibility with hours or location could be a focus. Questions about fiscal implications must be asked (e.g., if people work from home a majority of the time, what changes need to occur in the budgeting process). If the organization shares the same industry space with strong for-profit institutions, the pay needs to reflect this, while flexibility may have more guardrails due to international contracts, for example.
The key is to articulate this in the form of an official statement so all interviewees and current employees are clear as to why something does or does not exist. Unless the organization is an established Fortune 500 institution, it is highly likely a smaller organization cannot accommodate all expectations well without damaging organizational success.
A strategy on how administration and employees can work together toward recognizing as many expectations as possible is to be clear about what it means to be able to evaluate other expectations. For example, if higher pay is not an option right now, outline when it would be viable. Give a measurable marker with a clearly delineated process so everyone can see how they can impact reaching a desired end. For example, when “x” number of widgets are sold, our profit margin will be great enough to review an increase in pay. This would not only create a transparent pathway, but also encourage staff to work hard to reach milestones.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
In short, working from home (WFH) has left a lasting impact on the future of work. Instead of it being a fringe benefit for Silicon Valley tech companies, it has now been tested ubiquitously around the world, and in large portions of the world it worked relatively well. We cannot undo that experience, and neither will a majority of employees let it be undone. Yet, it cannot be universally enveloped into the standard work experience. “Why?” you may ask — because it would not be fair.
Something I have changed my thinking on over time is treating all positions the same. Being the oldest of three girls, I was keenly aware when my younger sisters got away with things I was told to avoid with a 10-foot pole, and as such I became hyper sensitive to what I perceived as “fair.” The reality is I conflated fairness with equality, which translates to feeling pressure to treat everyone the same regardless of individual circumstances. I invite all leaders, if you haven’t already, to join me in disabusing ourselves of this fallacy. Fairness is looking at the needs of the individual or position and responding accordingly. As we lead out of this pandemic, this translates to quantifying job responsibilities and creating an accountability model with boundaries that support desired outcomes based on the individual job, not everyone’s general desire.
It continues to be paramount to determine and consistently state the non-negotiable standards expected of all, such as values, customer service baselines, and behavior expectations. Outside of this, the leader must review job descriptions for (1) accuracy, and (2) distinctive needs. This is not unfair; it is proactive to ensure employees are treated fairly based on the job they chose to fulfill. Being able to identify and consistently articulate job differences allows for fairness to exist without everyone being treated the same based on the lowest common denominator.
When a group of employees perceive they do not have the same opportunities or advantages as another group, it is difficult to explain why differences exist unless data have been collected, reviewed, and presented with transparency. Leaders who use the easy way out and do an “all or nothing” approach — either everyone gets the thing, or no one gets the thing — will end up battling bitterness, group obstinacy, and struggle with turnover.
Let’s make this practical and talk about flex time. We have shown over the course of this interview that employees want both flexible hours and flexible work locations. In my humble opinion, it is not always possible to have both for every position.
For example, in my current office as a University Registrar, there are different types of work required of our team. Some work involves staffing our front desk and serving students, faculty, and staff during business hours; some work involves serving our customer base on the phone during business hours; some work requires email communication to document processes regardless of the time; some work has to be in person, such as receiving and processing paper diplomas; some work only requires a computer, headset, webcam, and secure connection to the network. It is unfair to the entire office if one position is required to be in the office most days during business hours to process paper diplomas, which sets the standard for those whose job is fully able to be 100% remote.
A solution is to let the data speak within the immutable foundation of office values and standards. For example, a standard that could exist for everyone is that while flexibility may exist in begin and end times, all employees are expected to be working for the same core hours each day (e.g., work your eight hours and begin no later than 8:20 am and end no earlier than 4:10 pm). This ensures we are best able to serve our customers, answer questions quickly, and grow and develop as a team. Over time, asynchronous work guarantees isolation, which goes against our value of teamwork.
Within these general standards, each position is to be quantified on its own, which informs the individual responsibility model that must be communicated consistently and clearly. This may not appear equal on the surface, yet the equity is based on job descriptions and stated key performance indicators, not what our colleague in the next cubicle is doing. So, the person responsible for processing paper diplomas has a job description that delineates 70% of the work is in-person actions, while the job description for the individual processing workflow updates and working with electronic degree audits has 10% of their job responsibilities requiring in-person activity. The leader of tomorrow will articulate this to their team, allow each individual to work remotely for up to the amount of time their job description dictates, and will maintain general guidelines shaped by institutional policies and values. The key is to be open and frank about what is possible, what is not, and back it up with transparent organizational values, standards, and data.
We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?
Statistically, those most negatively affected by the pandemic are women and minorities (https://www.pewresearch.org/2021/03/05/in-their-own-words-americans-describe-the-struggles-and-silver-linings-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/). If you are a Caucasian male, you are much more likely to identify positives that resulted from the restrictions put in place than any other societal group. While I do not wish it to be different for Caucasian males, as I am happy there are recognized positives, all should be able to share in the same experience. This demonstrates a continuing fact: women and minorities are not able to fully enjoy the potential positives that could occur. The foci of The Great Resignation — increased pay, development opportunities, and being respected at work — are the struggles of women and minorities, and have been long before the first Covid-19 headline.
With women and minorities starting behind the proverbial eight ball, the societal changes that need to incur to support these groups are championed by standard diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) development programs. Organizations can enhance support by implementing these programs and ensuring all groups benefit from the workplace adjustments equally.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
One of the few positives resulting from the pandemic is the pressure of doing things cold turkey together. Everyone had to pivot in order to survive, whether we were ready to or not. We were all in the same mix and therefore we extended grace when someone was figuring it out. Well, at least for a little bit.
This grace — temporary as it was — gave us permission to be flexible and to experiment quickly. I am encouraged by an emerging willingness to try things out, when previously there was pushback and hesitation. This impacts the future of work greatly, as the ability to maneuver quickly and fail fast supports a fluidity necessary for success.
Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?
First and foremost, employers are far more willing to talk about mental health and consider it to be a real reason for employee care. It is heartening to see mental health conversations being normalized. We can no longer get away with treating a broken bone differently than floundering mental health. Simply because the mind is not able to be seen in a cast like a broken bone, it doesn’t mean someone struggling with mental health doesn’t need rest and accommodations while healing in the same way.
No longer can we disregard mental health warning signs and encourage people to “buck up,” and to “put mind over matter” and not give allowances and resources to heal. The pandemic brought mental health to the forefront, so much so that organizations are moving to wholeness plans and encouraging conversations about mental health. The future of work is encased in positive mental health support and resources.
Ways employers can innovate in the mental health arena include, but is certainly not limited to:
- Scheduling time to talk about mental health — Set up consistent one-on-one meetings with all direct reports and ask them the simple question of how their mental health is doing. There are those who won’t want to talk about it, and there are others who only need the faintest prompt to reveal their need because they are on the edge. Leaders should set up opportunities to provide an outlet and be prepared with resources to refer to when needed.
- Modeling positive mental health behaviors — Being authentic to what is truly going on instead of hiding behind a veneer of “everything is great” allows for vulnerability. Leaders who demonstrate an understanding of personal flat sides — being vulnerable — while being willing to share the ways those flat sides are being addressed, is not only positive, but imperative to modeling positive mental health. There’s a recently published book titled, “The Power Lies In You: An Epic Guide to Regenerative Self Care” by Brooke Nicole, MPH. Brooke shares research behind positive mental health and shows it is fused with physical and emotional health. In other words, what we do, eat, listen to, watch, and think about influences our mental health. A good leader will give personal effort to improve physical and emotional choices not only for their benefit, but for those who are watching. Because everyone is watching.
- Communicate consistently — Uncertainty breeds anxiety and fear, and both emotions cause mental health to lag. Leaders who communicate consistently, provide outlets for their team to ask questions, outline plans for “what if” situations, and cast a vision that allows everyone to see their role in it will go a long way to support positive mental health, not to mention reduce employee turnover.
- Walk it out — Mental health is improved through physical exercise and movement (https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/mental-benefits-of-walking). For everyone’s benefit, leaders can schedule walking meetings for topics that don’t require a physical computer, and take the conversation outside. It is an incredible gift to not only accomplish something, but have the cortisol reducing effects of being outside. If outside is not an option, stairs and lobbies work well for moving while talking. Encourage people to bring walking shoes and don them consistently for everyone’s physical and mental health.
It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?
It is my true desire that leaders and companies in general take time to look at the basic reasons for turnover and bring all levels of leadership to the table to (1) take ownership, (2) take stock in their leadership quality, and (3) identify, implement, and follow up on ways to improve leadership capabilities.
What this Great Resignation is demonstrating is the fact that people in general continue to leave leaders, not organizations. Yet, it is often the sad fact that organizations do not intentionally develop their leaders. It seems as though once someone reaches the level of manager or leader, they are proverbially dropped into the deep end and left to figure it out on their own. I have not found many organizations intentionally growing their leaders at the beginning, or anywhere along the leadership experience. As a new leader, this may look like being assigned a mentor, providing opportunities to attend conferences and trainings to learn industry standards and identify cutting edge innovations, and have a collective team of new leaders to serve as a support group. As the leader moves further down the leadership path, the development can add the ability to mentor newer leaders and hone their communication and interaction skills.
An organization who desires to “future-proof” itself against movements like The Great Resignation will develop their leaders and hold them accountable for growing, learning, and developing not only themselves, but their direct reports.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”
1 . Burstiness. If you’re like me, this word is newer in your vocabulary. The idea of being “bursty” is not a new concept, as it has been compared with the tried-and-true ideas of brainstorming and crowdsourcing. What sets burstiness apart from these more staid concepts is the notion of facilitating bursts of interaction, innovation, and knowledge sharing and then encouraging long periods of time apart to work on, review, and test the outcomes of the bursty episode. This combination of high levels of interaction followed by longer periods of individual work on a process or task has been shown to produce higher quality outcomes (Reid and Williams Woolley, 2016). This is not necessarily new, especially in IT-related fields that adapt a scrum or agile philosophy of sprints and lean processes. Even though it is not new, I firmly believe it is the future of work in a general sense.
Here’s the general application. With more than 95% of workers wanting to set their own hours (https://www.wsj/com/articles/workers-care-more-about-flexible-hours-than-remote-work-11643112004) it is harder to ensure innovation and group productivity. The simple ability to ask a colleague a question is becoming surprisingly more difficult and time intensive. The trend of workers wanting to work at different times in different locations may or may not continue as we move farther away from 2020, yet for the foreseeable future this desire for flexibility continues to fuel a main reason of The Great Resignation and is not showing immediate signs of losing steam.
Burstiness is a solution. Organizations can provide more flexibility during the long periods of personal work time and be rigorous with the “bursty” times without losing the pull of truly offering greater flexibility. There’s a catch, the quality of innovation and creativity depends on physical proximity and interaction (Karachatzis and Parameshwarappa, 2021) — faces on a monitor won’t be as effective. In addition to in-person, there are a few more requirements for successful burstiness: psychological safety produced by spending time together and solid relationships, structure, and the right people in the room. The reasons behind these needs are a whole book in themselves, so we will let that list ride for now.
Burstiness is exemplified in the writer’s room at “The Daily Show,” where organizational psychologist Adam Grant experienced the creative process of coming up with content in action. He describes it similar to high quality improv jazz, where one player plays a note and another inserts a riff, and by the end a full melody has been reworked again and again to the enjoyment of the listener.
2. Metaverse. The populous has spoken of its strong desire to work remotely as much as possible, yet research demonstrates the positive impact and multiplication of in-person interactions (see section on burstiness). A growing opportunity to meet both needs resides inside a bunch of ones and zeros called the Metaverse.
Facebook, now Meta, continues to maintain their mission, “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” This mission has generated a computer-generated world called Metaverse where people can come together “in-person” virtually without physically leaving their home. It can be argued that the rudimentary level in which the Metaverse currently exists, and the limitations to effective non-verbal communication through avatars, isn’t truly better than Zoom, yet the promise of what is coming has promise. To see an introductory video on Metaverse by Mark Zuckerberg, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gElfIo6uw4g.
For those who have read or viewed “Ready Player One,” the reality of a virtual world where everyone attends school, goes to work, builds organizations, and spends a vast majority of their waking day seems more and more plausible. For the record, I am not in favor of everyone transferring their life into a virtual world; I am in favor of using technology in the niche areas it can serve us best. Organizations who realize this and invest thinking and experiment time on how the Metaverse can benefit their industry will be on the cutting edge.
Ask yourself, “How can I serve my customers in a virtual world?” The answers may be surprisingly straightforward.
3. Blockchain. I admit this one is still on the edge of my understanding, yet it is clear this is the future of work. I predict the power of blockchain, and more specifically, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), are the future of almost every field. Peter Diamandis, of X Prize Foundation fame, identifies that outside of the field of art, NFTs are taking the world by storm in the fields of music, e-commerce, sports, and real estate.
The idea of combining transparency, dependability, and uniqueness is a fundamental desire in every situation. Organizations who desire to poise themselves for the future will spend effort and energy to answer the question of, “What can blockchain/NFTs do for my business?”
Here’s an example in higher education. Verification of education and degrees continues to be highly important in recruiting and interviewing processes. Difficulties arise due to the nefarious intents of diploma mills and individual lack of integrity on resumes and CVs. Currently, there is an option for institutions to create an electronic diploma with a verification code that can be used by anyone to verify education on the institution’s website. This technology is helpful in streamlining the verification process, yet it is not ubiquitous and can be manipulated with enough effort and skill. What would happen if a student was issued an NFT diploma? It is non-fungible, which according to Merriam-Webster is “a unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided, that is recorded in a blockchain, and that is used to certify authenticity and ownership.” A NFT diploma would render diploma mills defunct and resumes far less likely to be falsified, at least in the education section.
4. Health. This trend has been growing over time and the pandemic has accelerated components of it. This is not simply physical health, but also mental, emotional, financial, and in faith-based organizations, spiritual. The understanding of the success of the organization residing on the shoulders of individuals and their overall health and well-being is finally being realized. Overall health of employees, from administration to middle management to the front line, is rightfully moving to the forefront. This is not a new desire of employees to receive well-being benefits from their employer, but it is a newer expectation (https://forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2021/07/24/theres-no-growth-without-health-employee-wellbeing-is-non-negotiable/?sh=78e6a4d32986).
Ways organizations are addressing this expectation is to create wholeness plans, where positive health decisions are rewarded, health resources are offered either free or at a dramatically reduced rate, and health improvement programs are encouraged. Employees can now access health resources via digital pathways, giving greater accessibility and opportunity for therapeutics.
Why is this the future? According to MetLife, employee well-being (health) is most likely to definitively effect on the workplace in the future (https://www.metlife.com/employee-benefit-trends/2021-well-being-resilience-and-employee-benefits/).
While there are definitive organizational steps that can be accomplished, middle managers and leaders who are not in the executive suite and can influence and put forward organizational-wide initiatives can participate in improving employee health through simple and tried techniques. A simple tool we have already covered is to set up walking meetings. It’s amazing the impact of setting a personal example of scheduling consistent walking meetings can have on direct reports and teammates. I promise you will be pleased with the adoption of walking meetings and breaks both by yourself and your team. The immediate results are a clearer mind upon returning to the office and the long-term effects cannot be bought.
5. Leadership Shifts. Here’s a fact: no leader alive (or ever) has led through a pandemic that has collectively affected the entire globe and left a traumatic and dramatic aftermath in such an intensely acute period. Leaders are exhausted and depleted. All of us. Yet, every day the sun still rises and we must wake up and lead.
It is natural for leaders to ease up on the intensity as restrictions lift. Our worn-down selves ache for respite and the ability to return to the way things were. Part of me hurts to say this, yet nothing could be more accurate: leaders who seek to return to what was will fail. Here’s why — we are no longer in the pre-Covid space. We have all been through and continue to experience various levels of trauma, life disruptions, racial tensions, expectation changes, process reshaping, economic upheaval, supply-chain uncertainty, and the intensity of war (to name a few). Things are not the way they were and they will never be again. Our world is different. Our people are different. We are different. Leaders who lead in the workplace of the future will realize this and shift.
While leadership shifts may look different for each leader, the basic concepts are the same. All change begins in the mind. Thoughts determine success or stagnation. Leaders who set aside and schedule time to think, to meditate, to read, to learn about themselves, to increase self-awareness, to take stock of where we have landed and where we are going, will successfully lead the workplace of the future. Thinking is the power tool of leaders.
Here’s a leadership challenge: set aside consistent and protected time to think, evaluate the thoughts based on personal values and standards, flesh them out with trusted sounding boards/mentors, review supporting and antagonistic data, and incorporate the thoughts that sustain all this into beliefs, daily behaviors, and decisions while discounting all others. This is the root of leadership in the future of work.
I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?
Recently, I challenged myself to follow my passions, even though it may involve crucial, difficult, and life-changing decisions. The statement I currently have stuck to my bathroom mirror so I see it every morning as I prepare for the day and every night as I get ready for bed is this: I am the only one who can fully use the talents and skills I have been given. The idea is if I don’t forge ahead and strike out on the path I know deep down I am meant to take as delineated by my strengths and experiences, I prevent those who I am uniquely positioned to reach from receiving what they need.
For many years I struggled with this growing conviction, as I perceived it smacked of arrogance. Yet the reality is ultimately true — no one can do what I have the distinctive skills and experiences to do. If I do not lean into my strengths and abilities, I am not fulfilling my assignment in life, and I have missed my passion and calling. It isn’t arrogance if this conviction is grounded in a growing and solid understanding of self, reviewed with trusted advisors, and rooted in dependence on God.
This is true for all leaders, regardless of title and experience. It is our choice whether we fulfill what we are uniquely equipped to do. This can be summed up in a ten 2-letter word statement written in my senior yearbook: It is up to me if it is to be. Tomorrow is determined by my choice, and I desire to make the choice only I can make.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.
It is a fierce tie between Brené Brown and Simon Sinek. Their take on life and leadership often has me jumping out of my seat with excitement because someone “gets it.” I imagine I could spend hours happily traipsing down many rabbit trails with either one of them on so many life, leadership, and business topics.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
For my take on life and leadership, readers are invited to join me at www.withleadership.co. This is a no-frills locale where I share convictions and vulnerabilities through blog posts and episodes of my podcast, “A Minute With Leadership”.
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.
This has truly been an honor!