February 7, 2022

This year, businesses are going to face more competition and challenges than ever before. If 2021 has taught us anything, it is that in order to be successful, we need to learn to co-exist with the pandemic. Leaders need to hold sway over the direction of the company, use resources more efficiently and adequately prepare for unforeseen circumstances. Leave behind antiquated systems and ineffectual methods that no longer work, and start embracing a new way of looking and doing things. Here are five leadership trends that you will see more of in 2022

Giving a Sense of Purpose

Research shows that superior leadership increases employee engagement, leading to greater satisfaction and profitability. Leaders must create a solid company culture that offers their team a strong sense of purpose and direction. A McKinsey study highlighted that two-thirds of US-based employees they surveyed felt that the pandemic had compelled them to reflect deeper on their purpose in life. Nearly half were reconsidering the kind of work they really wanted to do. And as the lines between personal and professional life (due to Covid-19) continue to blur, employees now desire more meaningful work. To create a greater sense of belonging, it is time to let your staff co-create their workplace experience, so that their needs can be taken care of.

Prioritising Employee Mental and Emotional Health

According to Aon’s 2019 Emotional Health Survey, emotional health is one of the top three drivers of employee wellbeing. Leaders need to acknowledge the importance of happiness on workplace performance, while dissatisfaction results in absenteeism, bringing about a reduction in productivity and revenue. In this current climate, it is important to demonstrate genuine care and kindness as well as support for those who are struggling. Set the tone that it is okay to ask for help or be upfront about experiencing difficulty. We can’t be perfect all the time.

Having a Flat Hierarchy

Having a flat organisational structure allows employees to work more efficiently as it streamlines communication, improves coordination and promotes openness and collaboration. Employees also feel less micromanaged and have more autonomy to do their job without constant reporting. This year, there will be a greater change in the hierarchy of organisations across all industries, not just the creative industries and startups. Case in point: Nike has made huge strides in having a relatively flat structure to increase transparency and reduce bureaucracy in the workplace. Managers take charge of smaller teams and decisions are implemented faster. On a whole, teams have greater agility, allowing them to watch out for new information, trends or customer preferences to streamline their decisions.

Charting a Career Progression Path for Employees

In 2021, Glassdoor revealed that at least 25 per cent of employees quit voluntarily— a huge jump from 12 per cent in 2018. Clearly, the pandemic has led to an attrition of talent and manpower. To retain your best talent, give them stability by having a clear career progression path. This will cultivate a desire to grow together with the company. In LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2020, it was established that internal mobility could help to improve retention since taking on new roles drives productivity. Another LinkedIn report in 2021 revealed that 74 per cent of employees felt that a lack of development opportunities hindered them from achieving their full potential. 87 per cent also believed that workplace development was crucial, and 76 per cent wanted companies to provide skills training. As a leader, think about how you can offer career pathways and personalise them according to each employee’s capabilities and long-term goals.

Being Agile, Adaptable and Resilient

The pandemic has demonstrated that the companies who quickly adapted their processes emerged as survivors; harnessing technology to offer online services, offering takeouts, switching to zoom classes and expanding product offerings. Since things are always fluid, leaders have to develop greater agility within the organisation and ensure that staff are trained to execute new demands and adjust to new market conditions. As Ian Forshew, founding partner at T-minus and Disruptive Leadership Expert says, “To navigate complexity, organisations need to be far more adaptable.” Traditional structures and processes that are slow and cumbersome need to evolve and give way to meaningful transformation. Employees need new skills, knowledge and a resilient mindset to sustain and forge ahead during these times of uncertainty.