By Melanie Fine
Hoping for a 2021 that would bring us out of the pandemic and back to business as usual was short-sighted. If 2021 taught us anything, it was that the pandemic is here to stay, and in order to be successful, we must navigate this new normal. How will that new normal manifest itself in 2022?
While no one can predict the future, leaders insist that we focus on what we can control, to be better prepared for what we cannot.
I asked ten leaders what they learned from 2021 that they’re doubling down on in the new year. Here is what they said.
1. Trust, Knowledge, Accountability, and Transparency are the Four Pillars to Foolproof Leadership
“As a business owner going into 2022, it is imperative to build your leadership structures on trust, knowledge, accountability, and transparency. These are the backbone of any successful company and will keep your employees feeling fulfilled year after year,” says Andrew Valdez Johnston, realtor at Hulett and Associates Inc.
“If you are honest, conduct yourself in a respectful manner, and deliver what you promise to your team, when you promised you would do so, you can’t go wrong. The issues arise when people try to take advantage of their company’s talent to make quick cash.”
2. Work Together as a Group to Foster Connected Leadership
“In 2022, prospective employees are looking for leaders with collaborative tendencies,” says Victor Cuevas, CEO of Griffin Crowd Capital.
Employees “want to have a say in the policies and operations where they work. I am not saying that employees want to run the show. In fact, many prefer to stay away from leadership roles.
“By utilizing community thought processes rather than dictator-like leadership, business owners and CEOs can attract top talent in 2022. People want to work somewhere that they can be proud of because they feel like they make a real contribution and aren’t just a dollar sign in their boss’s eyes.
3. Stay Organized Between the Highs to Help Your Team Push Through the Lows
“What you and your teammates do between the great workdays is just as important, if not more so, than the days with big wins. It will be crucial in 2022 to continue to be passionate and focused about whatever you do so your employees and teammates remain inspired and driven through any lows,” says Nina Luke, founder and CEO of FST Investments.
“It is the boring, menial tasks that often trip us up in business. Big creative projects foster passion by default, but little things that hold a company together and keep the cogs turning require us to bring our passion to the table. Keep a daily to-do list and go over it with your team regularly to make sure everyone is on the same page. Respond to emails and get ahead on work when you can. Use the lulls to make the crazy days so much easier in advance. Be a productive and passionate example to your team for optimum success.”
4. Structure Your Business Well
“It’s important to view your business as not just a way to build wealth but as an impactful entity. The personal and professional influence of the decisions you make should be at the top of your mind,” says Douglas Eze, financial planner and founder of Largo Financial Services.
“It is crucial to invest in your employees to enable them to do their work well. Use a common-sense, pragmatic approach to this. Don’t overthink it. If you would like certain perks or benefits as an employee, chances are your teammates will as well. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes for the best overall result.”
5. Evolution is the Key to Leadership Success
“As we transition to a post-Covid era, we see trends in the average workday, unlike anything we are used to. Employees prefer to work from home, are concerned with mental health, and desire meaning from their jobs. These trends are an advantage to you with the right know-how,” says Stormi Banks, CEO of Pink Print.
“It can seem overwhelming at first, but learning to navigate through workforce trends will serve you well throughout your entrepreneurial leadership journey. Pink Print specializes in helping young female entrepreneurs find the resources they need to succeed in using these trends to their advantage.”
6. Use Focus, Authenticity, and Experience to Shape Your Business’ Leadership
“Ask yourself authentic questions. Be true to what you’re selling, so it doesn’t feel like a sale. Know that your team meets a need that is void in your customers’ life,” says Dr. Mario McCoy, CEO and founder of NCMPRBL.
“Empower your team to buy into your company culture. Mirror your brand story from the inside out and inspire your teammates to be proud to be a part of what you’re building.
“I want my entire team to feel just as special and unique as our customers. The focus and authenticity provide value behind the messaging, and our goal is to promote global inclusivity. Remember to remain committed to the blueprint that has made you successful.”
7. Give Your Team Permission and Empowerment
“My mindset as a new author was all about permission. Who would tell me I was worthy to become the person I wanted to be? Who would tell me I was worthy to share my books with the world? Eventually, I realized that I could give myself that permission, but what was more powerful was realizing that I could give it to others too,” says Michelle Granara, pen name Emma Jean, founder of Imanauthor.com.
“When I say I’m giving [my team] complete creative control on a project, they have no trouble trusting that they are fully capable of everything I ask of them. Trust, paired with the permission to be creative and experiment, is the key. The world of work is all about autonomy in 2022.”
“What I brought to the table as a founder was the ability to say, I see who you dream about becoming, and yes together let’s make sure everyone else can see that person. That’s what it takes to get people to want to work for you.”
8. Streamline What You Can to Allow for Human Experience in Your Leadership
“Some people are scared to embrace technology because they think it eliminates the human element of business. However, when technology picks up the slack, professional-interpersonal relationships can flourish,” says Khaled Yatim, founder of Nile.
“Find the holes in the day-to-day operations of your employees. Which low-value adding activities are taking up too much time? Can you automate these processes so you can focus your attention on more important things, like big projects and brainstorming sessions?
“When more time is spent on projects and tasks that matter, employees feel a greater sense of purpose and belief in their careers.”
9. Preparation is the Secret Sauce for Leadership
“As a leader, we need to be a little bit more prepared in 2022. 2020 showed us all how the uncertainties of life can knock you off your feet with no preamble. 2021 was about regrouping and putting the pieces back together. 2022 should be about preparation,” says Joy Maxwell, founder and CEO of Childcare University.
“Business leaders need to be in tune and intentional with their planning and habits. If you take care of your team, your team will ultimately take care of you. If you better prepare for everything that is coming by ensuring your team has what they need, you will be better off.”
10. Lead Your Team with the Same Customer Service You Expect to Receive
“Sometimes we forget that everyone is just as human as we are. Career status, financial status, disability status, and so many other factors can make us subconsciously feel more than or less than someone else. I strive to treat everyone I come into contact with respectfully. That is something we, as leaders, should all strive to do in 2022,” says P. Lanette Pinkard, founder and CEO of Cruise Interpreter Academy.
“By treating your employees with the same respect and dignity you expect to receive in your everyday life, you are sending them the message that they matter. That their work matters. That they provide value to you and your company. In the New Year, that is a quality employees are hungry for. Provide them this simple courtesy and you will find lasting loyalty among your crew.”
When it comes down to it, the leadership skills that will get you through difficult times are no different than those required when the going is easy. The difference is that in good times, leaders can lack skills and still succeed. In difficult times, a failure in leadership can have dire consequences.
Use the fresh start of the new year to brush up your leadership skills, be authentic and deliver on your promises, organize the day-to-day in your business so nothing falls through the cracks, empower your team to be the best they can be, and streamline the mundane so that individual ingenuity has a chance to shine through. In doing so, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way.
Priority Management is a worldwide training company with 55 offices in 15 countries. We have successfully trained more than two million graduates in Priority workshops. Our programs help companies and people be more effective and manage their workflow in and out of the office by providing tools, processes and discipline. Simply put – A Better Way To Work! Clients range from Fortune 500 companies, small-to-medium businesses and government/military employees.
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