Leaders have faced many challenges they never expected over the past two years. And today, many are not only still dealing with the fallout of the pandemic, but they are also facing a labour shortage that for some is already reaching crisis levels. And these same leaders are left wondering what they will need to do in 2022 to keep their teams and their organizations moving forward.
But the answer is really quite simple (even if it isn’t always simple to execute). Great leaders in 2022will need to continue to follow the principals that they followed in 2021 – but with an increased focus on attracting and retaining good talent. As I said—sounds simple. But it isn’t easy to execute well.
I am working with a client right now—a tech client with an amazing work culture, good benefits, good pay—that is losing good employees to the competition. And, it’s not because of their pay. It’s because the employees’ personal motivations and ideals don’t align with the company’s. In fact, even the senior leadership team can’t seem to align with the company’s purpose—which was written several years ago.
Companies that have Vision, Mission and Purpose statements that are centered only on how to make their shareholders money are going to go the way of the dinosaurs. Unless they can find a way to connect what their people are passionate about, (The Why) what the company is better than anyone else at doing (the How) and how the world will be different when they are successful (The What) they will continue to lose the ability to connect with their current and prospective employees on a level that matters.
But in order for organizations to find their “Why”, their leaders need to know their personal “Why.” They need to be purpose-driven, others-focused and keep their personal “Why” at the center of everything that they do. Author/Speaker Simon Sinek has written volumes about this.
Being purpose-driven is the #1 leadership quality that is essential for 2022.
But why is it so hard for us to find our purpose—our “Why” as leaders? Truth be told, we don’t take the time to breathe these days—to have the reflection time to ask ourselves the questions—“Why am I here? What value do I bring to the world? How does my existence affect others? What difference can I make?”
That brings up the #2 leadership quality for leaders in 2022: Peacefulness Being peaceful does not mean being inactive, or void of action or conflict of any kind. It simply means having the ability to take a moment, listen to yourself and your surroundings, process, and then make decisions. But in order to do this, leaders need to take time to create the space—mentally and physically—for peacefulness in 2022. Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book that Changes Lives, says “Everything you’ll ever need to know is within you; the secrets of the universe are imprinted on the cells of your body.” But how can we find our answers if we don’t allow ourselves the space to just be?
How often do we hear from leaders, “I would have made a much better decision if I didn’t react so quickly.” This will likely be controversial, as many of us feel that we survived the past two years by being quick to act. Agile. Nimble. Fast-thinking.
But, those qualities can truly only be enhanced by having peacefulness first —even if it’s just for a few moments each day. My father—an inventor who designed intricate medical devices for research studies—would, every day at 12:30 pm, close the door to his office and take a nap for exactly 30 minutes. The way he described this ritual, “It’s my way of clearing out the junk from my brain and focus on the important stuff.”
It may be impossible for you to take a 30-minute nap every day, but what if you simply blocked time on your calendar—every day—to just let your mind take a quick break? Step away from your laptop, your desk, and go for a walk outside? Give your dog a belly rub? Examine the clouds in your coffee?
My invitation to you is to start with finding your moments of peacefulness. Then work on your purpose. Let me know how that works for you.
Prepare now for 2022
2022 is going to bring its own challenges to organizations and their leaders, but there is no reason you can’t start preparing now. If it’s been some time since you’ve thought about your “Why” take some time before the end of the year to get it clear in your mind. Better yet, write it down and share it with your team. If you’ve never read Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why”, get yourself a copy and read it over the holiday season. It will help you put the structure around your own Why.
Secondly, start developing habits of peacefulness now. Whether it’s through meditation, a daily walk, or even a 30-minute nap each day, find a habit that helps you clear your mind, so you’ll be ready to make the difficult decisions you’ll need to make as a leader.
Successful leaders never stop growing and learning. And there is no better time to prepare for the New Year than now.