The pandemic has dominated the last two years leadership themes but this year it feels like we are moving on. While the pandemic itself has receded, it has left a lasting impact that shapes this year’s themes. That said, these leadership themes are highly relevant regardless of the pandemic. They are four themes any leader, in any situation will do well to bear in mind.
Theme #1: Innovation
The pandemic created massive disruption in an incredibly short period of time. Many companies struggled as their business models were challenged and in some cases destroyed. In contrast, some companies saw the crisis as an opportunity, and used it to strengthen their business models. The obvious example is Zoom, which has become synonymous with video communication. There are similar examples in most every industry. The brewing industry saw the rise of micro-canning. It enables the smallest brewery to expand their distribution with low volume production runs. This helped many small brewers stay afloat and post pandemic, creates more take home beer selection than ever. Disruption is with us to stay and every leader has to leverage the opportunities it presents or face the consequences.
Theme #2: Employee Engagement
This theme is not new and it has been critical for many years. It has long been said employees leave their bosses not their jobs. The great resignation and quiet quitting are examples of this. Neither are new but employees are less willing to put up with mediocre or worse situations. Turnover is a huge problem in many industries but you can turn it to your advantage by being a talent magnet. People are looking to work for managers who are empathetic and who create highly engaging work environments.
Theme #3: Execution
The role of any leader is to generate results, it is the basis on which our performance is measured. I include it here because excellent execution is becoming more important than ever. The pandemic disrupted many processes, most notably supply chains. I still hear excuses that goods aren’t available because of this and I don’t buy it. Great companies figured it out long ago. Poor companies haven’t and instead assign blame an as excuse for mediocrity. When times are tough, and as the economy becomes more challenging this year, we will see which companies excel.
Theme #4: Collaboration
The marketplace is becoming more specialized as our world becomes more complex. No single company or team can do everything. Collaboration is the name of the game. This means building strong, trusting two-way relationships. We need partners who embody these leadership themes. In the past, many companies have competed to increase the size of their slice of the pie. This is a zero sum game. In contrast, by partnering we have the opportunity to increase the size of the pie and create more value for us and our partners, a win:win.
I am excited about the year ahead. It will bring its challenges but if you focus on these four themes you will improve your performance. The good news is every leader can learn how to take advantage of each of these four leadership themes. The best leaders I work with are very intentional about what they work on and what they don’t, and this is the key to success.
What leadership skills will you improve in 2023?