As organizations closed the books on 2021, leaders looked forward to the new year with more perspective and an extra year of experience. And while no one knows what 2022 will bring or the challenges we will face, there are specific things successful individuals will focus on, regardless of outside variables. And if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that you have to be prepared for whatever success or struggle that may come your way.
From embracing emotional intelligence to focusing on employee development to creating a more autonomous company culture, successful leaders will do what it takes to ensure their teams have the tools in place to make this year one for the record books. Check out these five things successful leaders will do in 2022!
- Embrace Emotional Intelligence
Leaders are constantly looking for better ways to connect with their staff, encourage engagement, and inspire a culture of creativity and productivity. But any success enjoyed in those areas start with leaders who embrace the idea of building a high emotional intelligence (EI). According to Oxford’s Dictionary of Psychology, EI is “the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” EI is based on developing cognitive functions and soft skills in the following areas: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Social Skills, Empathy, and Motivation. Successful leaders in 2022 will build a high EI to better understand employees and help set them up for success.
- Focus on Employee Development
While seasoned professionals understand the importance of being life-long learners, one area leaders should focus on this year is employee development. In a recent report, 51% of Learning and Development professionals said internal mobility is more of a priority now than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, employees stay with companies that focus on mobility nearly twice as long as those that don’t. The study also found that 76% of Gen Z workers cite learning as the key to a successful career. Encouraging employees to train and develop new skills is key to not just more effectively supporting the organization through retention and engagement, but it also helps build a team focused on personal betterment. In 2022, make it a point to offer training and development programs for your employees, whether through internal training, external professional organizations, or cross-training within departments.
- Create a Culture of Autonomy
During the past two years, organizations have worked tirelessly to keep up with demands while navigating the ebbs and flows of the pandemic. With labor shortages and shutdowns, leaders and employees alike were forced to pick up the slack and embrace a “do more with less” mentality. While this strategy may work for sprints during seasonal upswings, it isn’t ideal for a marathon pace for long-term work. And we’ve seen the effects of this highlighted this past year. According to a study, 77% of small businesses feel the effects of burnout. Moreover, 94% of workers age 18 to 34, and 84% of the age group 35 to 50 feel burnout. One way successful leaders will combat this issue in 2022 is to build a company culture based around delegation and autonomy. A recent report found that 52% of employees lack autonomy at work, yet autonomy is an essential function for engagement and increases “role clarity, engagement and commitment, satisfaction and alignment, social safety, and adaptability.” This year, successful leaders will combat burnout through delegation and giving employees the freedom to work independently to increase job satisfaction and balance work loads.
- Set Flexible Goals
You’ve heard it before, but it remains true today: fail to plan, plan to fail. While creating goals for the year is essential to overall productivity and annual success, one change elite leaders should embrace in 2022 is setting flexible goals. You may currently follow the S.M.A.R.T. goalsetting process, but there is one element missing: variables out of our control. Over the past two years, we have been forced to be flexible and update our expectations, and while 2022 may be the year of “bringing back normalcy,” it would be prudent to embrace our new skills of adaptability to anticipate the unknown. While creating goals, consider variables out of your control that may affect your success or outcomes. From supply chain issues to inflation to talent shortages, sometimes outside factors can derail the plans of even the most successful organizations. This year, leaders should look beyond this and create alternative goals should another “new normal” arrive.
- Drive Innovation and Technology
Playing it safe is no longer a prudent business decision. Fortune favors the bold, and in 2022 successful leaders will drive innovation and technological advancements to create a competitive advantage. However, driving innovation may be a tall task for some. According to a study, three out of four executives say a lack of skills is the core issue their industry faces to bring their innovation to their market. The disconnect can be solved by utilizing third-party organizations or industry experts to help bring leaders into the modern era of business, as well as encourage employees to train and develop new skills that help create a foundation of innovation. To measure innovation’s impact, PwC research found that 69% of leaders view sales growth as the top indicator, while customer satisfaction ratings (43%) and number of new ideas in the pipeline (40%) were second and third. So in 2022, leaders should focus on using technology and innovative ideas to build these three areas of their businesses.
What do you plan on doing to be more successful in 2022? How has embracing these five areas of growth helped your company in years past? Let us know in the comments section below!