Sunday, 10 January 2021 05:17

8 important lessons for leaders to practice in 2021

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The learnings of 2020 can lead the way to a kinder, more collaborative 2021.

We made it. December 2020. And now, instead of the joyous celebrations that usually mark the close of a year, we're spending far too much time reflecting on what went wrong.

Speaking from experience, this type of reflection is seldom beneficial. Instead, I urge you to look forward to what 2021 can be. In fact, looking ahead is what often buoys us in difficult times, so turn your attention away from negative retrospection to focus on the possibilities of next year-- for yourself and your business.

Here are some good places to start:

1. Recognize the role of mental health in work performance and give employees adequate support.

Though we still struggle to make mental health part of conversations about our wellbeing, 2020 has given us all a sense of what mental health challenges look like. Some of us have grappled with depression and anxiety while others experienced grief. And instead of brushing it all under the carpet, artificially separating personal and profession, we have the opportunity to acknowledge these challenges in 2021 and give ourselves the space and the resources to heal.

Start with your own company and open the door to conversations about how world and business events can impact one's state of mind, emotional health, and ability to function well. Acknowledge your own struggles, if you are comfortable doing so, prompting your teams to share their own struggles and secure support. Additionally, equip your HR team with the tools and resources to address these issues.

2. Focus on the community.

Covid-19 brought many issues to light, but it certainly made clear the importance of community collaboration in ensuring our collective wellbeing. Don't let this stop with the pandemic; recognize the unique impact your company can make in the community and devote time and resources to lifting it up. Here are some ideas to get you started.

3. Spend more time with your employees.

Whether you recognize it or not, your employees look to you for guidance, vision, and behavioral cues. Don't shy away from that-- leverage their experience and insight while inspiring them to follow in your footsteps and live out your company's mission every single day.

How? Small group discussion sessions about company initiatives; regular written communication with team and business-wide status updates; personal recognition for work milestones and achievements; and training on best practices for key initiatives -- both internal ones and external ones, like philanthropic events.

4. Seriously consider how remote work options can help you and your employees.

While remote work has been a necessity in 2020, many companies have also discovered that it's a viable future for their business. Not only can employees perform just as well remotely as they do in the office (and sometimes better), but they're afforded flexibility and freedom previously unavailable. What's more, companies can now ditch the expensive overhead of sprawling offices -- or at least downsize them.

It's worth exploring the options: How might you and your teams benefit from remote work in 2021?

5. Spend more time in your marketing telling authentic stories.

Crisis -- especially widespread crisis -- reveals vulnerabilities previously tucked away. We've all seen this play out during the pandemic. And in this space, we have increasingly reached out to individuals struggling with mental health issues, financial burdens, and other difficulties.

Leading the charge are those businesses who care more about being authentic and honest than making a good impression-- the same ones who publicly admitted to their own struggles and advocated for kindness and patience in the wake of 2020's crises. This inspired the rest of us to open up about our own lives and, in that commiseration and mutual support, we found comfort.

With this awakening, people have come to appreciate the value in people again, not things -- and their stories are resonating more than ever.

6. Serve as a role model of safety, kindness, and optimism.

I've said this before, but it's worth saying again. The change you want to see in your company starts with you. Don't wait for HR campaigns or grassroots initiatives. Be the change you want to see -- and I strongly encourage you to lean on communal wellbeing, kindness, and optimism. These are the sparks that ignite inspiration.

7. If you haven't already, spend a few days a month with the work of Simon Sinek and Bren Brown.

It's always worth exploring the thinking and ideas of others; it broadens your worldview and stokes innovation. But as we rethink the culture of business in 2021, I urge you to visit (or revisit) the work of Simon Sinek and Bren Brown. These two visionaries have a strong sense of humanity in the world of business and will motivate you to build new, healthier habits that feed healthier relationships.

8. Put a reminder on your desk to pause each morning for reflection.

It only needs to say three things: People first. You can do this. Tomorrow is another day.

 

Inc