Every time the calendar turns to a new year, people look forward. We look, but we can never see the future with great clarity. But after the last two years we have lived and led through, 2022 may look even murkier than usual. As we look forward, what must we be thinking about? And more importantly, what must we do? Here is my list of leadership imperatives for 2022.
Reconnect to vision. While we might not know exactly what the future holds, we must stay connected to our vision. Right now, many teams and team members feel more than uncertainty – they feel like they are floating, without direction. When we can reconnect people to the vision and purpose of the organization and help them connect that to their personal visions people will be grounded and feel better equipped for forward motion.
Understand employee concerns. In August of 2020 during the lockdowns and the first rounds of the pandemic, I wrote that “now is the age for empathy” for leaders. That imperative is as strong now as then. While the best leaders have always been empathetic, it has never been more important. In times of massive change in where and how work is done, and what employees are looking for and thinking about their work, leaders must have a pulse on the wants, needs, concerns and objectives of their team members. This is the right thing to do, but an imperative because of the ongoing ripples of the Great Resignation and how that is causing people to rethink their wants and needs in their work. To lead effectively in 2022 means to be empathetic.
Support mental fitness. Three factors make mental fitness (both our own and that of the team) more important now than ever.
- Mental health is under siege: People have been stressed in new ways and that is having a negative impact on people as human beings and employees.
- Mental health is safer to talk about. Awareness of these issues are higher than ever, and generally people feel more comfortable talking about stress, anxiety and their mental health than ever before.
- Mental fitness will be a competitive advantage. Leaders who are empathetic (understand the concerns) and proactive (willing to address those concerns) will be the leaders people want to work for. Organizations that find ways to create an environment that supports mental health and high performance will not have talent attraction or retention problems.
Redefine team. As more people work apart some or all of the time, we must redefine what it means to be on a team, reconfirm what the expectations are for how we work together, and continue to reinforce the factors that lead to collaboration and teamwork. As leaders it is imperative that we keep this topic on the minds of our teams. We don’t have to have all of the answers, but we must continue to engage our teams in this topic of discussion, creating agreements and practices together.
Consider culture in everything. As the context and location of work continues to morph, culture must be tended to. While culture will always be changing, if we aren’t actively tending to it during times of massive change, what it changes to might not be what we prefer. One of your leadership imperatives is to help create an aspirational culture for a new day and lead your team towards it through every decision, action and interaction.
Double down on development. For nearly two years many organizations have rediverted their attention and dollars away from employee development. Leaders and organizations that provide learning resources for the skills of the future of work will win both talent retention/attraction and achieve better results. Additionally training and development that was delayed or became a lower priority during pandemic times must be addressed now for the overall health of the organization.
There are six leadership imperatives – six actions you must take as leaders and organizations to succeed at the highest level in the coming year. We commit to doing all we can here on the blog and in many other ways to help you with these decisions and actions.
If want to talk to use about these leadership imperatives or anything else you are working in for 2022, reach out and we will be in touch.
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