One year into the global pandemic, discover the three specific changes in your leadership role needed to create the future of work.
Today’s post is by Bill Jensen, author of The Day Tomorrow Said No: The Discovery That Forever Changed the Future and How We Work (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
This is a unique moment in history. Each and every one of us has a part in what happens next.
For far too long, our systems have been designed to leave too many people behind. Now the pandemic is giving us a do-over moment.
In the U.S, millions have faced permanent job losses; are going hungry; hundreds of thousands of small-business owners have closed shop; and how we educate the workforce of the future is being reinvented on the fly, and demonstrating how digital inequities are societal inequities. We are living through an extremely disruptive moment exposing an increasingly unequal economy.
And according to Jensen Group research: 74% of the workforce see the future of work as pushing them beyond their capacity; and for mid- to lower-level employees, their top professional priority is not great culture or great teamwork … instead, it’s their ability to create and control their own destiny.
While the virus is a devastatingly lethal weapon, it did not cause these global ravages and challenges.
We did. In how we built our economy, our companies, our work, our systems, and our priorities. “Let’s not minimize the negatives. This is very tough on a lot of people,” said CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria, when asked to emphasize the positive opportunities created by this crisis. “Unfortunately, the part that we’re going to find more difficult than people are imagining is finding that Restart Button.”
Each of us has a role to play in addressing these challenges. During Fortune magazine’s recent Reimagine Work Summit, Thrive CEO Arianna Huffington said that right now is the “first opportunity to truly redesign work since the Industrial Revolution.”
The future is watching… What will you do?
I’ve been coaching many leaders on this exact question since the global pandemic began. While every leader and each organization are different, here are three next steps that the most successful leaders are taking…
Practice Disruptive Empathy
Shakespeare’s Henry V leveraged this approach as he walked among his troops. To truly understand the disruptions that the pandemic has wrought upon your people, you must walk among them, in their shoes.
Engage with them in ways you never have. Talk to the single mom about her remote work needs while her three grade-school-aged kids are attending school remotely. Talk to janitorial staff about what’s changed in the past year. Talk to team leaders who are trying to keep everyone engaged and focused when they only see their team through Zoom calls. Talk to furloughed employees about financial hardships. Talk to the vendors whose shops are near your offices.
To understand the disruptive forces that this pandemic has brought to each individual — and what it’s going to take to address those personal needs and transformations — create completely new conversations.
Feel people’s pain, struggles, and triumphs. Record your Ahas. Share these insights with your mentor, coach, or most trusted peers. Consider new possibilities. Bring all that into the following steps….
Rethink Work Systems
Something amazing happened in the spring of 2020. Institutionalized, centuries-old ways of working and learning — all previously requiring in-person supervision and coaching — went remote within a matter of weeks. We all discovered newfound agility, adaptability, and innovations in how we learn and how we get stuff done.
Now it’s time to build upon those forced changes. How can you rethink productivity within your teams and organization? How will you incorporate a much-needed new focus on personal wellbeing — physical, emotional, social, as well as financial?
Many companies are working backward from a virtual-first model. Others are rethinking teamwork with specific in-person and virtual blended designs. Still others are rethinking their entire approach to burnout.
2024: What Will Your Legacy Be?
Your legacy is your mark on the world — how those in need of those redesigns will say that you impacted their lives.
This is among the most powerful coaching exercises I’ve done with leaders in the past year: Asking them to articulate, three years from now, what will their legacy be?
That timeframe is near-term enough to see your vision realized. And allow you to be nimble and agile, responding to each month’s new developments. Yet long-term enough to have time to properly implement your vision.
My recommendation: Craft your 2024 legacy vision after practicing disruptive empathy, walking among your troops, in their shoes. Then drill down into specific rethinking work system initiatives to bring your 2024 vision to life.
What Will You Do?
We are dancing at the edge of the future of work design. Will we leap into the new future by enabling both company and personal agency, in ways that the new world of work demands?
The choice is up to each of us.
Bill Jensen is chief executive officer of The Jensen Group, is ranked as a top 10 global thought leader on digital disruption and is an IBM futurist. He is the author of “The Day Tomorrow Said No: The Discovery That Forever Changed the Future and How We Work”. For more information, please visit: https://www.tomorrowsaidy.es/?r_done=1
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