In the December 2020 issue of Leader’s Digest, I shared my thoughts in an article entitled Leadership in 2021 and Beyond. To be an effective leader in 2021 and beyond, we need to have the Leadership PATCH (purposeful, authentic, trustworthy, compassionate and humble).
12 months have since passed by us and we now step into 2022. As the world is trying to get back on its feet, we are seemingly hit by waves of adversities one after another - from COVID mutations to floods, maintaining employee health and wellness to balancing the books. Needless to say, these challenges have contributed to higher levels of anxiety and stress in all of us. As leaders, we must be defiant and continue to lead - especially during these difficult times.
Leading in times of crisis (like now) calls for Leadership FOCUS. In 2022 and beyond, I believe leaders must lead with fervency, being open-handed and committed, with undivided attention and a servant-heart.
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Leaders in 2022 and beyond must be fervent.
Fervency is often used as an adjective to describe followers. It speaks of the tenacity and resilience of someone in their pursuit of something (in our context, it would be, the calling and pursuit of their role as a leader). Leaders must be fervent followers of their purpose, values and vision.
Leaders must remain true to their purpose - their reason for existence. Being fervent in their purpose means intentionally living out their purpose. When leaders live out their purpose, it brings a renewed sense of energy and inner contentment that is unexplainable.
Take for example my recent conversation with Ahmad (not his real name). We had just concluded a leadership workshop focusing on discovering your purpose. In our follow-up one-on-one conversation, he was elated and lost for words when trying to describe how he was able to live-out his purpose that week. His facial expression was priceless and words could not encapsulate the emotions (excitement and energy) of how he was feeling. Purpose brought Ahmad that inner joy that was priceless.
Leaders must also be in sync with their values. Being fervent in their values means not compromising what they believe in. Imagine watching your favourite TV programme and having the audio and video not synchronised. It is frustrating and confusing when leaders don’t walk the talk (and talk the walk). When their behaviours (actions) and their words are consistent, leaders build credibility and reliability with the people they lead. This allows people to develop trust in their leader. And trust is the greatest currency of a leader.
Leaders must be forward-looking in their vision. Being fervent in vision means not giving up when the going gets tough but rather passionately pursuing - as how a runner would run his/her race to win. Vision speaks of the future and something for people to look forward to. It brings a sense of hope and a potential that has not yet been experienced.
Leaders in 2022 and beyond must be open-handed.
Open-handedness speaks of generosity. Being generous reminds leaders we are a connected community at-large, to be grateful for what we have, and give to others who are in need. Leaders must remember that it’s not about “me” but “WE”.
The past 2 years have convinced the world to see that we are a connected community at-large. Closer to home, the recent flood situation in our nation has been devastating. While it is sad for events like these to remind us of the connected community we are all part of, leaders must commit to memory and grow from the lessons learnt. Being open-handed means not just thinking of our own backyard, but the willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of others (the community at-large).
Leaders have an attitude of gratitude (Maxwell). Leaders recognise their own journey, the bittersweet taste of success and failures, and those who have journeyed with them. Grateful leaders are humble to recognise the reason they can stand tall is partly because they are standing on shoulders of past giants - people who have gone before them and laid the foundation for them to build. And now, they are responsible to build on that foundation so the next generation can continue the building.
Leaders give to others, including the least deserving. Without being discriminatory, leaders create opportunities for people regardless of their background. They offer a chance for others to become a better version of themselves - to step out of their comfort zones and live out their purpose. Casey’s story is one of many who are impacting the lives of people around the world.
Casey Crawford is co-founder and CEO of Movement Mortgage (retail mortgage lender in the United States). He is a Super Bowl (American Football) champion, recipient of the John Maxwell Transformation Award, and featured in news media such as CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox News. Casey believes the success of a business is not in what it receives from the community (revenue and profits), but rather, how much it can give.
The desire to bring life and hope to others led Casey to form the Movement Foundation. They have invested USD260 million of company profits in schools, communities and non-profits around the world. The Movement Schools (network of tuition-free public schools) was established to provide world-class academics and character education in underserved communities.
Leaders in 2022 and beyond must be committed.
A committed leader is a one who is wholeheartedly devoted to the call of leadership. They realise leadership is a privilege and not a position. It may come with a position, but committed leaders understand leadership is influence. The responsibility that comes with the role is enormous and humbling. Bob Chapman, Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller says, “leadership is a privilege and responsibility to influence and shape the lives of people. It’s all about the people”.
A committed leader is a leader who grows in competence. They recognise they are the lid to the people and organisations they are leading. For people and organisations to grow, they themselves must first grow. They understand what got them here, won’t get them there. Not relying on past successes, leaders continue to invest in their own development for the future. In other words, leaders are intentionally and consistently growing themselves.
A committed leader is a leader who counts the cost. Ask any successful leader, and they will share the pains and sacrifices they have made to be where they are today. Living a life of discipline is key. The fastest man on earth (100-meter world record holder), Usain Bolt explains, running the race is the easy part. The tough(er) parts are in the training. Committed leaders understand, you either pay now and play later, or play now and pay later. Either way, you will need to pay. But if you pay now, and play later - the play compounds (vice-versa).
4. Undivided Attention
Leaders in 2022 and beyond must have undivided attention.
In our post pandemic modern world, attractions and distractions are present at almost every corner. Attractions could be in the form of new opportunities, areas to improve revenue streams, to reduce cost or improve shareholder value. Distractions could be concerns around economic recovery, survival of the business, fear of another outbreak and the list goes on.
Be it a new business opportunity or career path, leaders must give their undivided attention to leading and not be distracted nor attracted by the things around. Leaders must keep the main thing the main thing.
What is the main thing for a leader? I believe it is to lead - that is, to influence others and impact the lives of people positively. Be the authentic leader who enables people to bring the best version of themselves everyday. Hubert Joly, became “CEO in Training” at Best Buy and delivered a 263% increase in shareholder return, five consecutive years of sales growth and doubled online sales. He says, “We achieved this turnaround by pursuing a noble purpose, and treating profit as an outcome, not a goal. This is what I believe is at the heart of business”. Hubert kept the main thing, the main thing. By leading with purpose, he was able to bring the best out of people, who in turn, delivered the desired results.
Leaders in 2022 and beyond must have a servant heart.
The heart of leadership is to serve others. Servant leadership is no longer a theoretical concept but a differentiating factor for people and organisations to thrive in 2022 and beyond. There is no secret to being a servant leader. It is about placing the needs of others above your own. It is about valuing people and seeking to add value to them. It is about honouring commitments made and having integrity in leadership. Treating people as people, and not a resource.
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Casey Crawford, Bob Chapman and Hubert Joly are some of the many leaders we have in our world today having the Leadership PATCH and Leadership FOCUS. They are far from “perfect” but they seek to bring change and make a difference in our world today by becoming a better leader and helping others become a better leader.
I pray and hope we will strive to be that better leader in 2022 and beyond - Purposeful. Authentic. Trustworthy. Compassionate. Humble. Fervent. Open-handed. Committed. Undivided Attention. Servant Heart.