The most critical skill for professional success in 2021 and how to develop it


The traditional top-down decision-making flow of traditional businesses has proven to be more of a hindrance than a catalyst for success in today’s marketplace. When competitive advantage is about creating new paths and blazing unexplored paths, a business needs all the ideas on the bridge. But how do you make sure you are seen as one of the influencers within your company rather than being seen as a troublemaker or unrealistic?

Below are tips to help you prepare to lead your career to success for 2021 and into the future:

Imagine a future that does not exist. We have been trained to put out fires, non-stop. The past year has forced us to do it faster and faster than ever. But tackling one problem after another creates a responsive operating state. This means that the future will be determined by forces outside rather than created from within. If you’re hoping to influence the future of the company you work for, you’ll need to tap into something you had in abundance as a child, but may have lost touch with as an adult: the imagination.

It means giving yourself permission to let go of current reality, ignore what other people may think, and let your mind follow your desires and dreams. What do you want the future to look like? What would you do for the business if money, resources, and approval weren’t an issue? What should you and your function be doing to have the biggest and most positive impact on your customers?

Develop an empowered state of mind. the Lemonade Institute, an employee experience software company that helps create great workplaces, recently released a report on what they call experience activators and how these mindsets influence individual success. They define experience activators as mindsets that everyone has, which generate energy and increase our ability to improve overall experiences and quality of life. These mindsets include resilience, purpose, mindfulness, gratitude, optimism, self-efficacy, openness, and emotional regulation.

Their research shows that people with high levels of experience activators have low levels of stress, high levels of well-being, engagement, and productivity, compared to people with levels of experience activators. medium or low experience. It also shows that these states of mind can be strengthened through both personal action and organizational support.

As an individual, they recommend that you:

  • Remember that there are many factors under your own control that can positively shape and influence your life experiences.
  • Don’t diminish the power of under-recognized mindsets – focus on all experience activators to enhance the employee experience, as all of them are powerful and especially important.
  • Choose one or two most influential activators based on their relative outcome contributions, depending on which outcome you think you need to optimize the most right now.

Be prepared to challenge the status quo. Lisa dodman, director of human resources at Unit 4, a cloud-based enterprise software company, said that “2020 has provided HR leaders with a tremendous opportunity to challenge the norms of what has been going on for over 15 years and truly examine the needs of people. customers and employees through collaboration, innovation and creativity. “She emphasizes that empowering others to challenge the status quo is critical to learning the best lessons of 2020 and continuing to support proactive change.

Dodman points out that “the best ideas can come from anywhere. As leaders, we don’t have all the answers, and it’s businesses and people who learn to take risks that tend to be successful. Remember that failure is how we learn to adapt to our new world. From the start, our CEO encouraged risk-taking. Everyone has a voice and something unique to bring to the business. These ideas can change the journey of a product or organization for the better, and finding those opportunities is critical to the differentiation that successful businesses need today. Empowered employees work harder and smarter, and through empowerment they will trust leaders more, they need to find out how they perceive this feeling of empowerment.

The best companies encourage people to speak up and share their views. But individuals need to take responsibility. She recommends keeping these tips in mind:

  • Through the right channels, be vocal.
  • Make regular and frequent points of contact with team members, so you can understand people’s frustrations, listen to their ideas, and understand what they hope to accomplish.
  • View comments and push back as important information versus rejection.

Companies can and should help make this experience a safe and productive one for employees. “At Unit4, every employee receives a short impulse survey every week so that they can provide anonymous feedback about the company, its initiatives, its values ​​and how they feel personally in their role.

These engagement surveys provide an overview of the effectiveness of our leadership strategies. This has been especially valuable in 2020 as a global remote working company. Ongoing engagement and conversations can encourage the proactive sharing of perspectives. Combined with 360 praise and feedback in our talent management system, we ensure a culture of openness, ”said Dodman.

Ability to work through conflict. Conflict is essential to create the future. Healthy conflict is about debating ideas, not with each other. However, while conflicts were difficult to resolve in person, remote settings created a hotbed for dysfunctional conflicts. My perfect CV led a study on workplace conflicts in our new remote workplace. Their study showed some interesting statistics.

  • 81% of remote professionals have experienced conflicts in the workplace.
  • The cause of the conflict came from “lack of transparency / honesty about something important” 18%, “value shock” came to 9%, and “false accusation” accounted for 2%.
  • After enduring series of virtual conflicts with a coworker or boss, 39% said they wanted to quit or actually quit their job because of the problem.

The main steps to take to make sure you use the conflict for good include:

  1. Set up regular trust-building conversations. Don’t wait for others to take care of it. Ask your manager to organize monthly team meetings that focus only on getting to know each other. Contact the 1-1 team members to understand how you can help them.
  2. Invite comments and share your own. When sharing your feedback, start by sharing what you’re trying to do to make the other person’s life easier. Discuss what you fear doing well or not doing when it comes to supporting them. It’s a very different tactic from leading with what they’re doing wrong and trying to fix it. Approaching it with the idea of ​​wanting to do better rather than wanting to make them better creates a safer space to share concerns.
  3. Leading with a good intention hypothesis. Most of our dysfunctional conflicts come from imagining a negative intention from the other. Whether we’re right or not, it makes us look less than ourselves. Taking on good intentions ensures that we continue to focus on what matters most – doing a good job and treating others with respect.

Prioritize impact over ego. It’s easy to get caught up in point tracking. Did you get full credit for your contribution? While there is nothing wrong with making sure people are aware of your contributions, it is essential that you keep impact as your top priority. This allows you to present yourself as a collaborative partner in any initiative. It also ensures that others are a part of the new future, increasing the chances that your ideas will really see the light of day. You have to ask yourself if keeping control of your idea is more important than your idea of ​​becoming something bigger than what you originally imagined.

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