The Future of Work in the Era of New Possibilities
As CEOs and their teams evaluate how to design hybrid work environments, support employee wellness, manage through uncertainty, and face multiple challenges at once, we say to them: today’s a new day.
Today we are invited to expand our understanding that greater possibility than we’ve ever imagined is accessible to us. As leaders, we can ask “what will it take to make things better than this?” At first glance, the bar may seem low. People are working from home, with little respite or escape. Productivity, social connection, and opportunities for in-person collaboration have all taken a nosedive, and for as long as the pandemic has been going on, we have increasingly become more anxious, fearful, and stressed. The solutions we seek are in response to these pain points, and, while a lot of good thinking and doing is happening, possibilities and solutions are not as systemic or sustainable as they could be.
If we shift our view to 30,000 ft. perhaps from here we can see with a new perspective and begin to focus on what we CAN imagine and WHAT is possible. As you look toward solutions with a more unlimited possibilities lens, we invite you to consider:
- What would it take to operate a business in expanded ways not trading profitability or performance for human caring or social impact but having both?
- What would it take to align strategy with a performance by elevating and energizing human beings more fully?
- What will it take for workplaces to be places where people really thrive, where they find and connect to their purpose, where human relationships matter and where the workplace actively supports personal growth and development as core?
- What will it take to buzz with alignment and contribution, from the leadership team to middle management to each new employee who joins?
- What will it take for us to honor each person as a whole human being in the workplace, embracing the diversity within each of our experiences and creating places where dignity, belonging, and safety are real?
If these VISIONS are possible, imagine what can be achieved. What is required in order to emerge new potential not yet realized, new solutions that shape the future of work? What could BE if we can SENSE and ACHIEVE these humanistic qualities while also ACCOMPLISHING our OKRs and initiatives?
We need to UPGRADE what we believe is POSSIBLE! Even while we work on the challenges at hand, we need to hold our orientation towards what is possible. Too often, we say things like “I can’t,” “It’s not possible,” “It’s too hard,” or “It’s never been done before.” We are blocking our own path to success when we say these things as these thoughts get embedded in our minds AND orient ourselves towards what we don’t want rather than what we want. Change it up.
Develop a practice of re-orientation. It’s easy to fall into old thinking and doing. As you focus on what you want over what isn’t available or what’s not working well, keep asking yourself, “How can this task/activity/training/program/client service delivery, etc. be better than this? What needs to happen to create flow and ease right now?” Yes, it’s a thought for your mind to play with, yet the shift that happens is the orientation within yourself that over time, will become your compass for moving ahead. Like meditation, or like training a puppy, it’s gentle and it’s an invitation to step into wisdom and creation within yourself that can be playful and fun as well. Try it and notice what shifts.
Lead with curiosity. Rather than jump into fixing things around you, get curious. Why is this happening? What is underneath what’s going on? Are there things I’m not seeing that can be helpful? What other stories are here that I can connect to? Curiosity might lead to empathy as you uncover others’ experiences on the same topic. Or, it can lead you to new ideas, new people, new processes that you hadn’t thought of before. The exploration doesn’t have to be a big process, yet the pause to discover and uncover can lead to great things.
As leaders, after curiosity comes an open mind and heart. What might be possible when you can hold neutrality while you consider new options or opportunities? What can happen when you don’t allow fear or anxiety or “what if” come between you and the EXPLORATION of what’s possible? To help you stay in this state of mind, check out this resource from Intune Collective on open and closed leadership. [insert] Create a practice of being vulnerable and open to knowing that not all answers come from the leadership team; beyond job title, seniority, or training, ideas may also come from those with their ear to the ground, with a connection to clients, or an insight into new possibilities. You won’t know unless you invite others into the process.
Let go of expectations on how you’ll achieve specific outcomes. What this means is that with shared intention and clearly defined outcomes, to create some freedom, space for innovation, and permission for individuality in terms of HOW you reach the outcome. As long as resource allocation is secure and the timeline and milestones are agreed upon, let people go! Watch and SUPPORT the people and the process; trust that the outcome will be delivered.
Stay in motion. Don’t give up. Stay in the game. Each action taken is new information and feedback for you to explore. What can you learn and share with others to further their learning, growth, and development? Connect to cultural practices and personal mindsets that help you be resilient and positively affect the culture. Let wellness and self care not to be for responding to COVID threats and challenges, but rather so that you can ACHIEVE what it is you’re after. Practice wellness and self-care FOR THE SAKE OF what’s possible; not to battle what’s not possible.
Be relational, not transactional. By focusing first on the people you work with as human beings, you automatically create a space that allows for more wholeness from both of you. By orienting yourself and developing a commitment to being in a healthy relationship with colleagues, friends, and family members, you create a cycle of lift, rather than drift. Transactional ways of relating don’t activate the emotional connection that is needed to have a culture where people want to be helping, working with, and supporting one another. You can have effectiveness and connection. It’s possible to have both. And, it’s possible to build this relational connection remotely through the intention to do so, along with a myriad of new communication tools and platforms to try.
Recognize and remember that human beings develop over time and that this development never ends. It’s up to each individual to lean in or lean out of developmental growth opportunities in their own lifetime, and if they are given the opportunity at work to do so and are supported, we see the potential come to the surface. We’ve already seen this happen with the quick pivot to remote working. What else is possible?
A few quick practices to get you started:
- Give yourself time to reflect, think, pause, and orient towards the possibility around you
- Change up your routines to allow your brain to adjust to the newness
- Make downtime to draw, doodle, write or create
- Be in nature and allow your mind to wander
- Ask questions of a friend or colleague
- Write down ideas without judgment; let your mind be open and fluid
- When considering something new, add to the idea by saying “yes and…” with each new addition
- Find a few moments to go inward and just breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Originally published at https://intunecollective.com on January 19, 2021.