Leadership Resolutions To Inspire You This Year
Over the past two years, many of us have reflected on what it means to be an effective leader in times of crisis. That often comes down to having a clear vision, inspiring others to work toward it and holding them accountable while demonstrating compassion and empathy. In our Workplace Innovator Podcast, we explored this topic often with experts in a variety of industries.
We wanted to share some of the best quotes and sentiments to help you develop your own leadership resolutions for this new year.
Timeless leadership resolutions
Resolve to evolve
As the profile of a leader changes, successful leaders embrace the need to adjust and evolve in their management techniques as well as their approach to their own work. Doug Shapiro, VP of Research and Insights at furniture and logistics solutions company OFS, said the type of adapting and adjusting employees at all levels experienced during the pandemic is just a small preview of the future of work.
“When I think about what’s the most important skill to stay relevant, it’s being a consistent learner, and this is just like our first big final exam,” Shapiro said in the August podcast “Leadership for the Future of Work: The ‘Imagine a Place Podcast’ Crossover.”
Shaprio said technology will continue to disrupt our comfort levels and introduce new layers to how we perform. Other factors including competitors, working with multiple generations, new preferences, and priorities will continue to drive change and force us to learn or become irrelevant.
Part of evolving is not fearing our job will become irrelevant, but identifying the parts that may become irrelevant and figuring out how to re-invent them.
Another aspect is setting aside ego and having the humility and self-awareness to recognize where we need to improve.
According to a survey by the Growth Faculty, every effective leader needs soft skills such as empathy, humility, self-awareness, and the ability to listen. Shapiro said there is great pressure on leadership to have answers for questions that emerge in the evolving workplace — and a good leadership resolution is to have the humility to slow down and let answers develop organically.
“I think everyone wants answers right now,” Shapior said. “But I think the great exercise that we could do that would be this exercise towards humility and dropping your own personal filter. Spend more time thinking about what are the critical questions we need to ask, because oftentimes I think if you just search for answers, you’re missing I think the real insights.”
2. Resolve to remove unnecessary stress
As employees navigate what it looks like to return to the office or to move to a hybrid work environment, an important leadership resolution is to help them reduce potential stress and burnout by looking for signs of what some call “digital dementia.”
Leadership consultant, author, and speaker Stan Gibson urges leaders to be careful about the amount of digital input they and their team consume every day. As a wellbeing expert and principal at Oxygen Plus, where he focuses on building sustainable cultures in and out of the workplace, Gibson is a firm believer that leaders need to take care of themselves so they can take care of everybody else – which requires some selfishness and the ability to walk away from work for a brief time to recharge and reset.
He encourages leaders to “be the thermostat, not the thermometer.”
A thermostat dictates the temperature in the room by taking in information and influencing the right mechanisms to adjust it. He encouraged leaders to constantly take the emotional and mental temperature of their company culture so they can recalibrate accordingly.
“Leadership is about influence, and that’s what a thermostat does,” Gibson said in “Returning to Office and Managing the Future Workplace While Living a Rich and Intentional Life.” “I think the big thing for leaders is you’ve got to take the time to sit down and just be in touch with each and everybody that either reports to you or even those people just in the office. That’s very important.”
A former property facility manager and asset manager, Gibson has seen the correlation between employee well-being and leadership, especially on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, 64% of people reported feeling anxious in general because of the pandemic. The World Health Organization recognizes burnout as a chronic condition, and approximately 77% of employees experience physical effects of stress.
As employees return to the office, there’s a significant amount of potential stress returning with them. Gibson emphasized the need for leaders to recognize the importance of mental health and overall wellness, for themselves and their employees.
“There’s people that are still processing, still trying to work through this,” he said. “As managers and leaders, we’ve got to be sensitive and we’ve got to have some kind of understanding as to sitting down and talking with people,” he said.
3. Resolve to have courage to become uncomfortable
It may not sound like a typical leadership resolution, but there is freedom in being uncomfortable as a leader.
Business coach Porschia Parker-Griffin challenges workplace leaders to resolve to find courage this year in the way they approach the changes in their industries. At Millennial Performance Advisor at Fly High Coaching, she encourages leaders to embrace the words of former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill: Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.
In “Leading Change – The Quest for a New and Improved Workplace in 2022,” Parker-Griffin shared insights and advice on navigating the unknown as we approach a new year.
Rather than being overwhelmed or intimidated by disruption, use it to catapult yourself into new ways of thinking.
“There’s so much you have to think about when it comes to change, innovation, just to stay in business, let alone be a business leader and really reach your goals as a team or as an organization,” Parker-Griffin said. “Not being comfortable with the success or perceived success that you might have had in the past and having that courage to try new things and understand that there is not only a freedom in doing that but there is growth in doing that.”
Just as your past successes are not the recipe for future wins, she cautioned that just because one company found a solution does not mean the same solution will work for your company. Solutions that are tailored to your organization’s needs come from being willing to have hard conversations with employees, management teams, and customers, and working together to find the way forward.
4. Resolve to build a people-focused workplace
Effective and efficient space utilization continues to pose an issue for companies as they adjust to changes in the way employees work. With 66% of leaders saying their company is considering redesigning office space for hybrid work, the trends in office design and real estate are adjusting more and more to fit the idea of flexibility — whatever that looks like for your company.
Certified interior designer Ramzah Khan works with companies looking for guidance on developing hybrid and collaborative workplaces.
A studio manager at Ware Malcomb in Washington, DC, Khan offers perspectives in “The Psychology Workplace Design and the Evolution of Employee Experience” on how companies can explore a holistic view of office design to create an employee experience where employees feel valued, heard, and supported.
The biggest trend she is seeing is that leaders are approaching workplace design from a people-oriented position as the idea of employee well-being takes on a new meaning.
“At the end of the day, flexibility is not linear. It is personal to everyone and it continuously evolves,” Khan said. “I think in a way, we are in this evolution of the workplace right now and the hybrid workplace is part of it … I think the trend is that it is becoming people focused; it is becoming employee focused.”
Stay sharp by staying informed
All these leadership resolutions require a commitment to continuous learning and development — and that starts by staying informed about the latest news, trends, and insights.
When you subscribe to the Workplace Innovator Podcast, you’ll get weekly conversations with some of the most forward-thinking leaders delivered right to your inbox. We talk with experts about adapting to the future of work, rethinking your workplace design and technology, re-evaluating policies, developing and maintaining a strong company culture, and much more. It’s a great way to hear real advice from real people who are putting it into practice every day. Here’s to another successful year!