It’s safe to say that 2020 and 2021 were years like no other as businesses across the globe adjusted to the new world of remote working and dynamic workforces. As a result, many business leaders are embracing the “new year, new opportunities” mantra that commonly gets used each winter in an attempt to reset their business strategies.
Business leadership, accordingly, is set for a year unlike any other. There is no shortage of advice on how to manage businesses, but true leadership means going one step further to engender positive employee experiences. That’s because—in marketing, at least—delivering the best employee experience is just as important as the ones made on behalf of clients and customers.
Displaying excellent leadership qualities is reliant on several key traits, including:
Agile leadership: Og Mandino once wrote: “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” After years of uncertainty, “business as usual” is not a strategy for success. Leaders who continue to pivot, reflect, measure, and implement the best strategies based on insight to create the best environment for people will be the ones who thrive. By acting quickly, having a flexible mindset and staying true to the core mission will succeed. At UNLIMITED, our insight-based, tech enabled, integrated agency group, our mission lies in the fact that we exist to do brilliant work for our clients—period. And we must never lose sight of that.
Transparent communicator: Good business leaders excel in communicating news in the right way. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good news or bad. You need to keep your organizations connected and communication is central to that agenda. For example, addressing the latest changes in COVID-19 government guidelines while also considering human nature to avoid conflict and potentially stressful situations. Communicating these issues calmly is critical. It relies on preparing for the conversation, being direct and compassionate, yet clear and concise. Involving the broader team in developing responses to challenges or opportunities is only possible when they know the full—and true—story.
Ever the optimist: Optimism is one of the most vital traits for any leader, especially as we head into the unknown in 2022. I like to compare leadership to the role of a lighthouse in a storm. When things don’t go to plan, it’s your job to move forward and keep your team engaged. You need to remain focused on the long-term vision and how great it will be when you get there, even when it seems challenging in the short term.
Tackling “The Great Resignation” head-on. Let’s be honest—it has been hard! Coined and predicted by psychologist Anthony Klotz, “The Great Resignation” saw record numbers of people quit their jobs in 2021. However, it’s important to remember that it’s simply a large swath of workers reconfiguring what their careers look like.
According to a recent Bain/Dynata survey, which surveyed 20,000 workers in 10 countries, 58% of workers “feel the pandemic has forced them to rethink the balance of work and life,” and with talent in high demand, people are more willing to hold out for a job opportunity that isn’t just a pay cheque, but a something that fulfills a deeper purpose. Unlike the past, where a good salary was reason enough to stay on at a company, today’s employee is seeking a workplace with a human touch, that sees and recognises their worth, and which meets them and their specific needs, whether that be accomodating a flexible work schedule or offering more agency in mapping out their future careers.
At UNLIMITED, we’ve used this period as an opportunity! We’ve expanded our set of recruiting partners, expanded our university/grad programs and focused on finding diverse talent to close our capacity gaps. As a consequence, we’ve gotten some amazing prospects, hailing from locations and sources we otherwise might not have discovered. The breadth of talent, energy and diversity is better than we’ve seen in our history, and I am certain it will pay dividends for years to come!
I believe we’ve also only begun to scratch the surface of what remote or hybrid working could be and what it means for new talent opportunities. Businesses that make offices a facility for employees to use and enjoy—not places where people HAVE to be—means they can attract and retain even better talent. Publications such as Forbes and Fast Company have noted the need to take novel measures to retain exceptional employees in such an economic climate. Increasing flexibility facilitates a superior work-life balance and better collaboration; this yields a better and inclusive culture where people can thrive.
2022 may present many unknowns for business leaders. However, through unprecedented times we discover new opportunities to grow our organisations and develop positive employee experiences.
In turn, that presents new opportunities to develop the core values that form the cultures of our businesses. 2022 is a fantastic time for leaders to take stock and forge new opportunities in another year unlike any other we’ve seen before. Because everything changes, but human understanding doesn’t.