By Melanie Fine
Hybrid work is here to stay, and the great resignation isn’t showing any signs of stopping.
According to Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index Report published this week, hybrid work is up seven points this year to 38%, and the percent of people looking to transition to hybrid has risen to 53%. In addition, 52% of those surveyed say they will be looking to change jobs in the next three years.
The workplace of yesterday, when employees unquestionably jumped through their employers’ hoops, is on the way out.
I asked ten entrepreneurs what traits successful leaders should have in 2022. These are their answers.
1. Good Communicators
“Communication is the key pillar to success in most aspects of our lives,” says Greg Moser, President of The Moser Group, an investment firm.
“From first impressions to personal relationships, good communication leads to business success, and poor communication leads to business failure. With stellar communication, we not only begin to form bonds with our team and our clients but reap long-lasting rewards as well.”
“Post COVID leadership is collaborative and is based on setting examples and guidance rather than enforcing rules,” says Mitch NGO of Golden Ark, a crypto token firm addressing the needs of the cannabis community. “It is no longer punitive, and it does not drive performance or innovation by dangling job security as the ultimate reward.
“Collaborative leadership defies what is historically taught in MBA courses. It is also different from what we learned from the cutthroat Wall Street firms, where the venerated ‘corner office’ was an end in itself.
“On the contrary, collaborative leadership that leads to corporate success values health, corporate creed, learning, and commonality of interests that transcend the corner office.”
3. Prioritize health, family values, learning, and commonality of interests
“The global pandemic was the death knell of old-school leadership. Successful business performance is now determined by personal connectivity and corporate fluidity. Employees will perform better when they feel that their needs are understood rather than when they fear being fired,” says Yuri Vanetik, a principal of Van Enterprises, a Los Angeles based management advisory firm that addresses the needs of nascent and rapidly growing businesses in markets such as the cannabis community.
“Collaboration, empathy, and understanding are now required skills that augment an executive’s command presence in the boardroom.
“The new type of collaborative leadership that promotes corporate success also promotes health, family values, learning, and commonality of lifestyle interests. These are values that transcend rigid corporate rules and risk mitigation policies.”
4. Take a vested interest in your clients
“When you take a vested interest in your clients’ lives and help them jump through multiple hurdles, the lasting impact is very fulfilling,” says attorney Sang Min Lim, managing partner at Sang Min Lim Law Firm and licensed realtor.
“We all work for money, and we spend many hours of our lives doing this work. Sometimes, we also forget that it’s okay to have fun with it. We should find ways to make our work meaningful for ourselves and our clients or customers. If you take a real interest in your clients’ lives, you create a community around your business that is worth so much more.”
5. Focus on customers’ needs and desires
“Knowing our target audience and industry trends is the essential element to success,” says Al Freshko the Creative Art Director for Elemonkey, the clothing division of Golden Ark, and the former Art Director of Cookies Clothing.
“In the creative design process you need to know how you measure up, and you need to have an idea of what consumers are into, and where they will be next season.”
6. Make space for play
“It’s important that, regardless of what stage they are in their journey, entrepreneurs stay young at heart,” says Aileen Avikova, co-founder of Enchanted Fairies. “In other words, go outside, unplug, toss a ball around. A fresh perspective will allow you to look at your business with fresh eyes.”
Enchanted Fairies is an organization that both strengthens children’s self-confidence and donates to charities that work ground-zero to fight hunger, trafficking, and to provide human-enrichment experiences to children with life-altering conditions.
“These eleven-year-olds are getting on Instagram, and all they’re seeing are these models who are airbrushed and photoshopped, and they think that’s how they have to look. At Enchanted Fairies, children aren’t airbrushed or edited. They’re encouraged to be themselves and enjoy the act of play. Our mission for our studio is to preserve the innocence of childhood for as long as we can.”
7. Challenge yourself and your team
“To maintain confidence in your expertise, you need to find ways to challenge yourself. Confidence, like other soft skills, needs to be invested in and grown. This can happen by taking on tasks that challenge, frustrate, and teach you all kinds of new things,” says Cory Williams, CEO of EPIC Health Partners.
“The most challenging task is choosing to face adversity on purpose. Whether that’s taking a class on a topic that confuses you or having difficult conversations, as you practice your newfound skills you will add to both the depth and breadth of your expertise.
Being curious and inquisitive in your personal and professional life will make you a great listener, especially when it comes to your clients.
“Asking questions and learning about your target customer is one of the key ways to generate leads,” says Joey Golliver, CEO of PowderX. “If you don’t understand what your potential clients want, how can you be their solution?”
It works both ways. Be available to answer your clients’ and customers’ questions as well.
“Provide ample opportunities for new shoppers and prospective clients to ask you questions, be it through your website, social media, or direct sales team. When a lead asks you a question, always follow up your answer with another question. Keep a rotating door of conversational flow by never giving them the option to leave the interaction until they buy. We are blessed with two ears and only one mouth for a reason — it’s to listen more than we speak.”
In addition, the more we listen to what our employees have to say, the more we’ll be able to address problems proactively and the more our employees will feel heard.
Leadership should be driven by high integrity, transparency, and a long-term vision that steers your industry towards positive social and environmental impact,” says Hussein Abu Hassan, co-founder and president of HIT Holdings.
“The blockchain industry especially is challenged not just by the complexity of the technologies involved but also by regulatory uncertainties, interoperability, energy consumption, and a slow rate of adoption. By committing to these values, we can enhance and simplify the lives of a generation of consumers.”
Being authentic, self-aware, and recognizing your strengths and weaknesses will go a long way in earning the trust of your employees and customers.
“In 2022, as more people and companies are using social media to try to get the same pool of clients, having an authentic message, authentic personality, and authentic results, will keep your clients coming back to you for years to come,” says Vito Glazers.
Employees and customers are naturally becoming more selective in choosing their workplace and their service providers. Business leaders who embody honesty, integrity, curiosity, play, prioritize their employees’ and customers’ well-being, work collaboratively with all stakeholders, and love a good challenge, will quickly rise to the top.