The overriding context for this year’s leadership themes remains the pandemic. It’s not new anymore, but it will continue to have the biggest influence on our working and personal environments. As you’ll see below, how we deal with uncertainty and how we engage the people around us has changed and we need to continue to adapt.
Theme #1: Uncertainty & Ambiguity
The world around us was becoming more uncertain and the pandemic accelerated this trend. As leaders, we need to accept that we can’t rely on what worked in the past. Times have changed and what worked last month, might not work in the future. We shouldn’t be surprised and instead we need to increase our curiosity. It is easy to dismiss things that don’t turn out as we expect but each instance provides a unique learning opportunity. Our ability to learn will be strongly tied to our success.
Theme #2: Accountability
The increasing amount of remote work and increasing sensitivities in the workplace are challenging how we maintain accountability. One thing we must not do is ignore accountability. If we do this we are embracing mediocrity and that benefits no one. We need to rethink how we manage accountability. Start by gaining clear agreement on what will be done, and make it safe for the other person to say no. If they feel the only answer is yes, they will not commit to hold themselves responsible and this is the key. You shouldn’t be stepping in to hold them accountable. Your role is to support them to generate the commitment necessary to take full ownership to deliver the agreed outcomes.
Theme #3: Vision and Goals
When we are uncertain, we need to find certainty wherever it is available. By creating a compelling vision and setting very clear goals, you provide that missing certainty. Clear goals specify the outcome, how success will be measured and why it is important. As your team takes action to achieve the goals, be the coach they need. Don’t micro-manage them, get out of the way and support them to achieve the goals. Have you set clear goals for 2022, this quarter or this month?
Theme #4: Leading Across
Influencing peers is more important than ever. In our flat organization structures, where working remotely is the norm, we need to rely on peers to do what they say. This means creating strong trusting relationships, where you can each say what is on your mind without fear of upsetting the other. Make it safe to say no and share bad news without being criticized. Your ability to bring your peers along with you will depend on how well you connect to what they care about. People are only committed to work on things they care about. Leading through compliance isn’t going to be sustainable.
I am excited about the year ahead. If we are willing to embrace these leadership themes, we can thrive and manage whatever comes our way. Change is ever present. The most successful people will be those who are continually learning, never settling for what is working today.
As you reflect on your leadership themes, I invite you to read an excerpt from my upcoming book about leadership. What it is and how the best leaders generate results. You can download the excerpt at the link below.