What’s one of the biggest challenges facing business leaders in the post-pandemic world? Employee well-being and mental health. We are living in a time when people are dealing with a lot more stress and anxiety – the ability to cope has become a challenge. Gallup® recently came out with a State of the Global Workplace report that showed only 33% of the world’s employees are thriving – and that percentage has only increased by 1% since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The needle has not moved much at all…why is this?
THE EXHAUSTION EPIDEMIC Are you feeling tired, like most of the time? You’re not alone! In the face of the exhaustion epidemic we’re experiencing, it’s time to rethink conventional wisdom about high productivity behavior. Grit and hustle certainly have their place in business but over the long haul, they’re also scientifically associated with burnout. If the pandemic proved anything, it’s that success in business is inextricably tied to health and well-being. You can’t have one without the other! It’s no coincidence that organizations and leaders have started to pay attention to the emotional well-being of their people like never before.
HOW TO HARNESS A BREAKTHROUGH Where are you right now – and where do you want to be?
TOP LEADERSHIP SPEAKER MIKE ABRASHOFF ON TALENT RETENTION STRATEGIES MIKE ABRASHOFF has been an influential speaker on leadership and organizational culture since Fast Company profiled him over 20 years ago. His bestselling book, It’s Your Ship, came shortly thereafter and has sold 1.2 million copies to date. Mike’s success as a speaker came because he is brilliant at providing audiences with actionable insights on the most pressing problems facing business. He draws on lessons learned after taking command of the near-worst ship in the fleet and overseeing its transformation to becoming the best ship in the entire U.S. Navy.
NOTHING IS CERTAIN EXCEPT CONSTANT CHANGE So much is changing in our professional and personal lives that it’s almost impossible to keep up. We’re all facing new challenges, working and competing in new ways, and encountering new problems that we’ve never faced before.
THUNDERBIRD PILOT NICOLE MALACHOWSKI TALKS ABOUT TRUST AND FLYING 400 MPH AND 3 FEET APART Trust: It’s the fuel that feeds high-performing organizations. 21-year Air Force veteran Colonel NICOLE MALACHOWSKI, USAF (Ret.), the first-ever woman USAF Thunderbird pilot, is frequently asked to talk on the subject. Her story about making the transition from fighter pilot to Thunderbird pilot is filled with valuable lessons for organizations looking to elevate their performance.
TAKING A STAND Have you noticed how more and more business leaders are becoming outspoken advocates on important topics? And - they’re making business decisions based on their convictions. The company that first got my attention on this was CVS which banned tobacco products from their stores in 2014, the first national retail chain to do so. They couldn’t reconcile being a health-focused company and selling a product proven to compromise their customer’s health. CVS has prospered in the aftermath. Since then, there’s been a trend of stakeholders holding companies accountable – asking them to stand for something more than just profits. These are the times we live in – and navigating that is tricky stuff for any business leader. Just ask Ed Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods who banned assault-style rifles and raised the age to purchase guns to 21 after finding out his store sold the Parkland High School shooter a shotgun. That gun wasn’t used, but he felt the company needed to do something. They turned $5 million in assault rifles into scrap metal. Actions like that have a profound impact on the corporate culture of an organization as well as how the company is perceived by the public.
NAVIGATING DISRUPTIVE CHANGE As a leader, you and your organization confront the unexpected every single day. In an environment of constant disruption, the survival skill of our times is the ability to adapt on-the-fly. The foundation of that competency is a culture that is resilient, innovative, and constantly experimenting. In formulating a response to disruption, leaders must recognize - first and foremost - that all change goes against the rules. Polly LaBarre has devoted her career to uncovering the best examples of leaders and organizations that are succeeding by thinking differently about the forces driving change inside and outside their organizations. Polly is co-author of Mavericks at Work - Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win and also founding writer of Fast Company magazine. As co-founder of Management Lab, the think-and-do tank that provides counsel to top companies all over the globe, Polly tackles real-world obstacles to organizational competitiveness by helping clients create cultures that can adapt to change almost as fast as change itself. I asked Polly for her best advice for leaders who are navigating today’s unpredictable business environment. Here are highlights.
COL. NICOLE MALACHOWSKI (USAF, RET) wanted to fly military fighter jets since the age of five when she saw her first air show. She achieved that dream and then some. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Nicole was among the first group of women to fly modern fighter aircraft, one of the first women to fly in combat (logging 188 combat hours), and the first-ever woman to fly in the USAF Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron.
For every leader unsettled by rampant disruption, unbounded competition, relentless commodification, and the specter of automation, there is a powerful antidote already inside the organization: the untapped audacity, imagination, energy, resourcefulness, curiosity, eccentricity, and passion of its people. Those fundamental human qualities are the engine of the creative economy—the source of all value. And yet, too few organizations are designed to unleash, mobilize, and amplify that human edge.