In my last post, I shared the first three leadership trends in our Top 8 list for 2019: the importance of building quality relationships versus larger networks, taking an intentional approach toward learning about others, and prioritizing face-to-face meet-up time. As a continuation of our three-part series, here are two more leadership trends to watch for and strategies to try out this year:
Be a mindful leader.We are all experiencing the effects of living in a world of constantly accelerating change and ever-evolving dynamics. The result of all of this turbulence is that if you’re not firmly anchored in your true self, you can easily be knocked off center, causing you to lose your perspective as a leader and fail to make sound decisions to effectively lead others. Now more than ever before, it’s important that leaders find a way to stay rooted in their own values and principles. One of the best ways to do this is to instill a sense of mindfulness. Mindfulness can take many forms in leadership, but at its root, it’s about being present so that you can show up as a centered leader for yourself and others.
When advising executives on leadership strategy, I often emphasize the importance of slowing down to speed up. I refer to an analogy that Thomas L. Friedman made in his recent book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations: when you hit the pause button on your computer it stops, but when humans hit the pause button, we start.
Take stock in examining and prioritizing your core values. How are you investing your time and energy? Are you building on your deepest values and on goals that are essential to you? How often do you feel in complete control of your time? I talk about these issues in my book, It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor, noting the importance of having your values align with how you spend your time, the type of work you do, how you make hard decisions, and the energy you feel or don’t feel based on your experiences and the environment you work in.
One way to achieve clarity on these issues and become a more mindful leader is by using downtime to enhance creativity. Since business often requires spending much of the year tethered to phone calls and meetings, it’s critical to periodically step back, drop your usual agenda, and take time to establish what’s important. For example, over the holidays I spent time listening to inspirational music and writing in my journal. A few hours later, an idea came to me that I had been looking for after weeks of back and forth procrastination. What someone might have thought of as “unproductive time” actually led to a big breakthrough.
Other ways to achieve mindfulness at work can come in the form of intentional goal-setting for yourself, as well as helping your team establish their own goals based on encouraging them to practice similar self-care. Remember that as a leader, your presence sets the tone for those around you. Work on conveying an inspirational tone rather than a negative one so that you and everyone around you can tackle daily challenges with increased grace and fortitude.
Be relevant to today’s workforce.Workplace flexibility has become increasingly important to people at all levels of organizations, and organizations that emphasize it gain a true competitive advantage. With this in mind, SHAMBAUGH advises leadership teams to reexamine their employment models, ensuring that they align with the needs of today’s workforce. Research shows that when employees have some flexibility in where they physically work and when they get the job done, they are not only happier but also perform better. Multiple studies have found that flexible work arrangements result in employees being sick less often and putting in longer hours, too. This means that leaders are actually putting performance at the core of success and development when they move beyond the mandatory 9-to-5, work-in-the-office tradition, empowering people to leverage other ways of getting the job done well.
Some managers may push back on this suggestion, pointing out that the in-person connectivity at work and in teams is useful—and I don’t disagree. But the fact is, employers benefit by offering flexible options. You can achieve face time and connection between colleagues who are working offsite in many ways, including video chats and Zoom meetings, as well as scheduled days in the office to balance times working from home. And keep in mind that there are risks in failing to offer flexibility. I’ve seen a number of top talented men and women alike leave their companies because of strict requirements to work only within the walls of their corporate offices.
Just one example was a sales executive who worked for a global company based in Europe. She was extremely successful and grew the business three-fold. However, the organization’s traditional leadership model required her to live near the European headquarters while her family lived in the U.S. Ultimately, she opted out of her role and found another opportunity that better honored the needs of her whole life and family. Companies and their leadership need to visibly acknowledge that people have personal lives as well as professional ones, and should make efforts to support both sides. Offering more flexibility can not only help to avoid regrettable losses like the woman sales exec above, but can also generate a huge sense of loyalty and purpose from many employees who value and seek such arrangements.
Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll share the final three top leadership trends for 2019.Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org share your challenges and successes throughout the year.
Rebecca Shambaugh is a leadership expert, speaker, author, President of SHAMBAUGH and Founder of Women in Leadership and Learning, a global institute for women leaders. Rebecca and her organization are recognized for their innovative and results focused approach for driving greater gender inclusion within organizations while accelerating the development and advancement of women leaders. SHAMBAUGH also works with their clients in engaging men and women as allies to be champions for creating a unified voice of leadership.