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Updated: Jan 29, 2020

Happy New Year to you!

As we head into a new year and a new decade, let’s check in with some of the trends driving leadership and successful organizations. What will 2020 bring?

The buzz I’ve been hearing lately has a lot to do with inspiring the workforce through purpose, being a likable (enough) leader and improving diversity and inclusivity at every organization.

The power of purpose

We hear a lot about “purpose” these days. Companies must have purpose. Cultures must be purpose-driven. Without purpose, employees won’t thrive.

For leaders, the pressure to make things purposeful all the time can be a lot. For one thing, purpose is very personal. What drives one person to perform might underwhelm another.

So how can leaders tap into the motivating factor of purpose? One of the best ways is to demonstrate cause and effect. For instance, you can tell your employees that their efforts are worthwhile. But let them listen in on a story of a customer whose life has been improved by your product, even better. That sort of firsthand testimony makes a stronger emotional impact and more clearly ties their efforts to a purpose.

The likable leader

Conventional wisdom dictates that being well-liked is an irrelevant, or even detracting, quality in a leader. You want your subordinates to respect you, even fear you — but not necessarily like you. Right?

Some experts are starting to disagree. HBR has done research evaluating over 3k employees that suggests "likership" matters. People habitually rate leaders highly on a range of characteristics depending on whether or not they like them in the first place.

For instance, people are more apt to rate you as more authentic, transformational, ethical and charismatic if they simply like you.

This makes sense. In an era when collaboration is king and hierarchical organizations are less in favor, the rapport between leaders and their teams is important.

But even HBR points out that being liked is not necessarily essential to effective leadership. So if you’re a leader who hasn’t staked their claim on being “nice” all the time, know that other leadership qualities still matter very much!

3 ways you can improve diversity and inclusion at your organization.

Author Caroline Stokes wrote a book called Elephants Before Unicorns. She draws on the advice of many leaders to paint a rich picture of proactive inclusion. It includes things like:

1. Publicizing all of your anti-discrimination policies in explicit ways and overtly stating that your company is, for instance, “LGBTQ friendly.”

2. Having all staff undergo diversity and inclusion training.

3. And — particularly for leaders — taking accountability, owning up to any previous mistakes, being transparent about efforts and working to build empathy and trust with employees.

You don’t have to be perfect at inclusion overnight, but conscientiously working it into your repertoire over time is a mandate, at this point.

That just about wraps up another successful year here at Makena Tech Solutions. I look forward to continuing to work with you and your organization more closely in the coming year and decade ahead! And if we aren't in partnership yet, we should be! Give me a call anytime. 1-833-MAKENA5


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