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Working the Future blog: our latest insights and future of work sensemaking

NAVIGATING THE FUTURE OF WORK: THREE LEADERSHIP TIPS FOR 2022

2022-01-11 12:06

Cathryn Barnard

Blog, 21st CENTURY LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT & GROWTH, CONTINUOUS CHANGE, UPSKILLING, CONTINUOUS LEARNING, FUTURE OF WORK CONSULTING, LEADERSHIP,

NAVIGATING THE FUTURE OF WORK: THREE LEADERSHIP TIPS FOR 2022

“Your resilience is not how firmly you can stand, but how fluidly you can bend.” ... I’m always awestruck by the human capacity for optimism. Despite the...

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“Your resilience is not how firmly you can stand, but how fluidly you can bend.”

Marcus Buckingham, author, speaker & consultant

 

I’m always awestruck by the human capacity for optimism. Despite the continued disruption, anxiety and confusion of COVID life, the New Year can’t help but instil a sense of hope among us. 

 

I was grateful for the way in which Christmas fell this year – to me, it felt as if we had a prolonged holiday period. I used the time to proactively disengage from work, enjoying instead (I think) the back-catalogue of Marvel films on Disney with my teenage daughter.

 

As I decompressed after a manic year, I thought about my intentions for 2022. Above all, I reflected on the things I know will strengthen both myself as a leader and the business we’re growing.

 

I’m not typically a fan of New Year resolutions (there’s an excellent piece on this very topic by Oliver Burkeman, in case you’re interested). But in these uncharted times, for me having some sense of aspiration cements purpose. While there are many things that I can’t personally control, in equal measure, there are many things that I CAN influence.

 

So, in the spirit of sharing, and indeed to hold myself accountable, I thought I’d share my three goals for 2022. 

 

1.    Improved energy maintenance

One thing I noticed about navigating 2021 was the psychological toll of constant chopping and changing. 

 

One reason our brain creates shortcuts and autopilots is to conserve energy. When the body is at rest, the average brain typically consumes 20% of total body energy. When the brain is involved in hard thinking, way more calories are burned, as studies of chess players have shown. Continuous change and uncertainty require us to constantly refresh our mental models, which consumes way more neural energy. This explains the low-lying sense of exhaustion so many of us experienced last year.

 

As I monitored the impact of continuous change on my own mental state, I started looking for an antidote. I noticed that the odd days off I’d taken to spend with friends were an absolute tonic.

 

I’ve scheduled deliberate downtime in 2022. I’ll take every fourth Friday off to spend on activities that trigger curiosity and reflection. In so doing, I anticipate improved endurance. 

 

In the same way athletes factor in recovery time after events for continued peak performance, business leaders need to take good care of their mental state. Burnout will be rife throughout the course of this year, and I for one will do all I can to ensure I stay at the top of my mental game. 

 

2.    Personal development and growth

Late last year, I enrolled in some online learning. I’d taken a break from this as we had so many other business priorities, but as soon as I got stuck back in, I realised how much I missed the experience of continuous learning and the great camaraderie that builds within online learning communities.

 

With so much change within our commercial environments, no one is immune from the requirement to continuously upskill. For business leaders, this is even more of an imperative. Running a business in the 2020s is a completely different ballpark, requiring very different approaches and mindsets. 

 

Additionally, organisations need visible role-modelling of continuous learning – we evolve quickest when we have examples around us of aspirational behaviour and with so much change afoot, we all need to adapt.

 

3.    Carbon footprint reduction

As COVID continues to dominate the headlines, it’s easy to overlook the escalating climate crisis. 

 

Yet legislative changes demand that all businesses get to work on a carbon emission reduction plan. 

 

In June 2021, UK Government updated its procurement policy

 

From October 2021 any organisation tendering for the supply of goods or services over £5million to any Central Government department, executive agency or non-department public body must provide evidence of its carbon reduction plan. This plan must include detail of environmental management measures in place and a confirmed commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050. 

 

In parallel, since UK Government introduced its Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting Scheme in 2019, companies with more than 250 staff are required to report on their Scope 3 emissions. This has implications for the wider business community ecosystem, as Scope 3 demands organisations to scrutinise the carbon emissions of organisations from whom they purchase goods and services. 

 

In short, this legislation requires all businesses to reduce carbon emissions. Failure to adapt is, quite simply, commercial suicide.

 

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So here we are. These are my goals for 2022. Lofty they may be, but I can’t foresee a viable future without them. In return and ever curious, I’m keen to know what your goals are? Drop your plans in the comment box below. 

 

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Looking to dive deeper into some of the areas covered in this blog post? Check out our Foresight Focus products.

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