The word “transformation” has been bubbling up for me these past weeks as I’ve immersed in my year-end/year-start reflections (using my annual 12 Questions as prompts). And what a year of transformation it has been!
Transformation is about more than temporary, situational reactive changes. Transformations go deeper, last longer, and can often create radical shifts resulting in something brand new — often for the better.
After some tough stuff for me a couple of years ago, I have made some changes and commitments that indeed turned 2021 into quite a transformative year for myself personally. And professionally too, with the kind of work I’ve been called to do — literally with the opportunities and calls coming in, and where my energy has shifted in terms of with who, how, and where I choose to engage with professionally.
As we head into year three of the pandemic, the world that we now know is still in flux. Our usual doses of challenge, change and uncertainty has been EXTENDED and AMPLIFIED, rippling into so many aspects of our work and lives. It is safe to say….We. Have. All. Made. Changes.
And we aren’t done yet.
But as a realistic optimist, I also find myself noticing changes that offer beautiful potential — some would call them, ‘silver linings’ for the year ahead in the world of work. While many seeds of change have been planted even well before these past two years, the dramatic influences of late, seem to have accelerated things to a point in which some are ‘taking stronger root’. I believe (and hope:) these roots are going to flourish into something more visible, more crucial, and indeed take a bigger role in the year(s) ahead.
In this article, I want to highlight just a few of what I see as transformational themes taking root within the terrain of leadership and work.
Predictions, Transformations, and Some Wishful Thinking for the Year Ahead.
I am going to touch on three inter-connected themes. None stand alone. They are: Resilience; Humanity at Work; Leadership Evolution.
#1 Resilience — The fuel of the future
If resilience were a stock, I’d invest my entire life savings in it. It is the fuel of the future. It’s always been important yet one of those resources that tends to get overlooked and taken for granted — until it is threatened or depleted.
That time has come. Individuals, leaders, teams, and organizations are noticing! They are either discovering resilience they didn’t know they had; growing resilience to new levels to meet today’s challenges; or realizing their tanks are nearing (or already at) empty — and something must be done (this latter one is often when I get a call:).
None of this is a shocker. The word ‘resilience’ has likely been used more than any other word (other than ‘unprecedented’:) these past two years. I bet a lot of people have named it ‘their word’ to either describe the year past, or create a mantra for the year ahead (see Questions #6 and #12 for context).
Prediction: With our world is still in flux, this will likely be high on the radar for some time – certainly for the year ahead. Resilience will continue to amplify in its importance as a must-have, critical skill for work (and life) at all levels — individual contributors, leadership, teams, and organizations at large.
Resilience is essential for the tough times and for times of constant flux. We need to learn, adapt, and find ways to flourish — over and over again. Yes, that Darwinian principle still lives on and we will continually be challenged.
My Hopes and Wishful Thinking: My hope is that even when we have periods of ease, we never lose sight of the importance of cultivating, nurturing and growing this precious ‘fuel’ at all levels and for life.
And when I say ‘we’ I really mean ‘we’. Resilience is both an individual and a ‘team sport’. We have to each take responsibility to learn about our own resilience needs and thresholds. And we also need to be mindful of our impact on others. Our actions (or omissions to act), choices, and ways of showing up can have an impact on others.
We have to partner more, collaborate more, and show up to be there for others because this is where the ‘we’ has it’s critical impact. Being there for others amplifies the potential to build resilience for all.
Resilience has many faces and many inputs and outputs (mental, physical, emotional, social). And it is renewable, but not on its own. We need to renew our own toolboxes and share with others.
I been growing my personal toolbelt on resilience for a long time — and especially over the past year. AND, sharing various strategies, insights, resources in a myriad of ways within my coaching practice with leaders; giving workshops and courses, etc. Right now I am collaborating with an organization to create a resilience “Olympics” of sorts to provide support, agency, learning and collaboration opportunities to their hardworking staff who are feeling the wear and tear (like many) in these enduring difficult days.
How about you? I hope you put this high on your learning and development priorities. Whether you are an individual contributor, a leader, an HR professional, the skills related to resilience will continue to play out big in our individual and collective strengths.
It’s a big topic with much more to share. I will likely bring more of this to this space (the strategies, themes, ideas) that I share in coaching and workshops — but for now, let’s hop on to the next inter-connected theme.
#2 Humanity at Work:
Ahh, to be human…
Alongside the tough stuff of these past two years, there has been an increasing groundswell of humanity showing up in the world of work, which just may just be one of the silver linings of our forced adaptations to recent tough times.
Never before have we conducted our ‘business’ of work within such a visible blend of our ‘business’ at home. We take zoom meetings in one another’s kitchens, bedrooms, with pets and kids running around in circles. Our virtual way of working has unmasked people and guess what? Stuff still got done. And along the way, people got to see and relate to their colleagues as real people and more than their title and role.
Prediction: Expect to see more seeds of change within the theme of ‘humanity at work’ in the year(s) to come. People do better when they are relating and connecting at a human level. And yes, it’s been definitely harder to do this when working virtually but it’s also increasingly more crucial to find ways to do it!
Many of my leadership clients are making efforts to have more connection with their people at work individually (one to one) and in teams — even in virtual ways. They are also recognizing that it’s not frivolous to share news about their new puppy. It’s not superficial, wasteful small talk to share their latest Netflix discovery. Connecting on the work is always important. And so is connecting with a person on a human level.
Building trust is impossible to do without some human-to-human connection. We need to see each other as people and not just working titles to truly garner trust. And yes, even the vulnerable parts.
Creating a human-centric workplace is not about shipping out hard hats or making people tougher. It’s about creating safety in our working environments, our conversations, and our approaches. In addition to acknowledging strengths, we also need to acknowledge human vulnerabilities too.
Heck, if our Olympic champions, tennis stars, and hockey pros can do it, why can’t we?
My Hopes and Wishful Thinking: My hope is that humanity at work continues to root strongly as individuals and companies transform their way of ‘being’ together in good times and tougher times. That people continue to find ways (virtually and/or eventually in person) to connect more fully on human levels. That more workplaces make it safe for all to be human and sometimes vulnerable, and that they continue to find ways together to support and champion resilience and flourishing.
Humanity at work asks for courage, authenticity, and generosity — with healthy doses of compassion for others and for oneself.
All of this calls for strong, people-centric leadership. Which brings us to the next inter-connected theme.
#3 Leadership Evolution:
None of the hopes and possibilities I wrote about above can take root without exceptional leaders. Or shall I say, ‘human-centric’ leaders.
Leaders have an enormous opportunity and responsibility during tough times (and good times) to help catalyze the potential in their teams, and cultures; to create safe climates; to support resiliency – and so much more.
For starters, leaders don’t just ‘do’ those good leadership things. They must BE the leaders who can model and be the change that supports the positive transformations that the world now needs. This takes commitment, learning, growth.
It is important for leaders of all levels (especially to new and emerging leaders) to understand what it really means to be a leader and not just a ‘manager of getting things done’. Looking ahead….
Predictions: Working hard and getting stuff done will always be part of the work and leadership context. But the difference-makers will be leaders who embrace a more people-centered approach. Leaders who embrace the shifting landscape with more humility, collaboration, curiosity, and compassion. And leaders who grow themselves – constantly.
Leaders will increasingly recognize they don’t have to carry the loads on their shoulders alone. Leadership is becoming more democratized as the work world calls for more collaboration, and asking that all talent shares in accountability, in solution-making, and in fostering more personal leadership across the talent spectrum.
In the Business Coaching Advantage Program offered by People Dynamics Learning Group Inc. (Note, I am on faculty), we frame leadership coaching skills training within what we refer to as “Big C Shifts”. This points to less command and control, coercing, complying. Instead, the shift asks leaders to level up with more connecting, co-creating, collaborating, communicating, — and with focus on the common good. It’s heartening to see so many leaders embracing this new way of leading. And I predict this shift will continue to gain ground.
My Hopes and Wishful Thinking: My hope is that the seeds that have been planted for many years now, will take even greater root in the year ahead.
Leaders will bring more humanity to work as they develop themselves and embody the C-shifts of leadership. They will support others in their growth, learn more about creating safety in their spheres of influence, in their conversations, and in how they support others to succeed and flourish. Leaders too will have to safeguard and cultivate their own resiliency, learn to recognize their limits, and adapt to ever-shifting realities in a world of flux.
2022 is in its early days of unfolding. This is a pivotal time to look at and make some commitments. Make a few changes. Learn a few new skills and habits.
Changes don’t always happen in big sweeps. Some can happen in small increments. These can add up to big, beautiful transformations. Let’s look forward to that so we can create better days in the year ahead.
POSTSCRIPT: If you or your team is looking for some partnering on how to amplify resilience, collaboration, leadership skills, I would be happy to explore. Get in touch!
Eileen Chadnick, PCC, ACPC of Big Cheese Coaching, is an ICF credentialed executive coach, team coach, workshop facilitator, and writer specializing in career navigation, executive and leadership development, culture-building, and communications. Principal of Big Cheese Coaching and Chadnick Communications in Toronto, Eileen is also a faculty member of the Business Coaching Advantage Program™ at People Dynamics Learning Group Inc. She draws from the disciplines of emotional intelligence, positivity – and Conversational Intelligence®(C‐IQ®) in her work. She is author of the book, Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy. See more at www.bigcheesecoaching.com