Chief Executive Insights

5 Strategies for Thriving in the New Year

This year challenged the business community with the greatest challenges yet, and as the nation continues navigate a global pandemic, I anticipate this year will continue to bring us more. However, we do not become the best companies and leaders by being untested.

C-Suite executives have had a pretty rough go of it these last two years. We had to lead our companies through a pandemic lockdown and, in most cases, entire business strategy pivots. We had to transition employees and stakeholders to our newly implemented remote workplace models. And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve had to tackle labor shortages brought on by the Great Resignation and fulfillment challenges spawned by ubiquitous supply chain shortcomings. And look who’s knocking on the door. The Omicron variant and raging inflation.

That’s why it’s so interesting that Price Waterhouse Cooper (aka PwC) just released their 25th Annual CEO Survey and show more than three-quarters of CEOs, 77%, predict the global economy will improve in 2022. An additional finding suggests CEO optimism for 2022 is trending higher than last year. What might explain this overwhelming positive outlook?

By nature, CEOs and their senior managers tend to be leaders that thrive in a world of movement and change. Many genuinely welcome the opportunities that come when adapting to new market conditions.  This can be attributed to their positive mindset, eternal optimism, and their notion that failure is never an option.

This is all good stuff and clearly defines our worth as leaders, but even the most optimistic among us does run the risk of burn-out, especially given the “pile on” nature of recent challenges. They’re never ending! That’s why it’s important for all us to take a moment’s pause to re-assess our standing and then psyche ourselves up for another roller coaster of a year, 2022.

Bear in mind, it is not the strongest people that survive – nor the most intelligent, nor even the most positive; it’s those that are the most responsive to change. That isn’t easy. But these 5 strategies can help you continue to be optimistic, serve as role models for your employees, and ultimately thrive in the coming year, no matter what it brings.

  1. Practice Empathy: Titans of industry aren’t generally known for empathy given the competitive nature of business, but in this market, still struggling with the pandemic, positioning yourself as someone who is willing to listen and understand the challenges of others will make you stand out.
    During “The Great Resignation,” the number one reason that drove many employees to their breaking point at a rate three or even more [times] than other factors  – such as fears about job security and the failure to recognize an employee’s job performance, and a bad company response to the COVID-19 pandemic – is a toxic corporate culture.
    It is critical to practice empathy not only with your employees – but also with your senior colleagues, your suppliers, and your business partners. Right now, employees seek a management culture that is willing to hear them out – and accommodate their needs if it’s reasonable and possible. Otherwise, they are at genuine risk to walk out. Show you are a leader who is committed to dialing up your emotional intelligence, willing to listen to input and concerns.
  2. Model Optimism:  While there is really nothing normal about the world we’re managing right now, the good news is, people are getting used to it. Help them navigate the shifting tides by modelling your optimism in all you say and do. Let them learn, by your example, how they too become opportunists in a time of major change, by not letting the change overwhelm them with negative thoughts and worries.  Be sure you are reassuring and positive in all your communications with them, allowing them to see you as a beacon of light in these uncertain times.
  3. Make Bold Decisions: When it comes to making strategic business moves in this environment, it might seem like a good time to be cautious, to evaluate all the options, or wait to see where “the chips fall” before moving ahead. Don’t let these uncertain times throw you into decision paralysis. Let your positivity lead the process and be recognized for your decisiveness.  If it ultimately turns out to be a poor decision, changing it and heading in a new direction will not be chastised. Standing still will be.
  4. Keep it Human — The pandemic has streamlined the normalization of many digital solutions that might otherwise have taken a few years to become a standard component of commerce.  We’re talking AI, big data, and automation here.  They’re all great tools that will radically change how businesses operate for the better, but in the rush to adopt these tools, don’t forget to maintain the human part of your relationships. As you automate more, don’t forget the very real emotional needs of your employees and customers. Build in consumer- and employee-facing initiatives [that] reassure them there are still human values backing the enterprise.
  5. Evolve as a Leader – It’s tempting to believe many of the radical changes we have made because of the pandemic are short lived and temporary.  For the most part, they are not.  Don’t live in false hope that once we’re through this crisis, we can get back to the pre-pandemic leadership habits that originally defined our careers.  You’ve shown you can pivot and adapt to the pandemic.  Now show everyone that you have truly evolved with the times as well – by integrating these changes into your leadership makeup.

Stop waiting for the perfect conditions to move your business forward. Practice these techniques and let them guide you through 2022. It is a time of tumultuous change, but also grand opportunity. Let your faith in positivity get you through and help bring along those who partner with you.

Choosing optimism is one of the most powerful things we can take into 2022. Your business and future self richly deserve it!

 

Written by Kimberly S. Reed.

Have you read?

Best Citizenship and Residency by Investment Programs.
Richest People in New York and Their Net Worth, 2022.
The World’s Top 10 CEOs Over 70 Years Old.
These are the world’s most and least powerful passports, 2022.
# Case Study: LVMH’s Bernard ArnaultApple’s Tim Cook, and Elon Musk.

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Kimberly S. Reed
Kimberly S. Reed is an award-winning international speaker, author, corporate trainer and diversity, equality, and inclusion executive. With more than 20 years in HR, talent/recruitment acquisition, diversity, equality and inclusion expertise, Kimberly has successfully countermanded inadequate and/or troublous diversity practices by designing, building, leading, and shaping dynamic, high-performing work cultures. She is founder and CEO of Reed Development Group, a cutting-edge multi-disciplined Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion solutions firm.


Kimberly S. Reed is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn.