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This image is a wonderful depiction of where we have been and where we are now.
Sixty years ago life was experienced more as a straight line. Our choices were limited and life was more predictable. Our dreams were simpler: a white picket fence, a nice man that provided, a good job, a family and a caring wife. Women were limited to being secretaries, nurses, teachers or homemakers, while men knew they were the bread winners in the family. Men were men and women were women. And we were much more accepting of our lot in life – if we weren’t happy in our job or relationship, we toughed it out. That was the way it was.
Times have changed though. Life isn’t as linear and predictable as it once was. We have more options and more desire to explore the world. Exposure to life’s possibilities through the media and internet has made us more restless, less willing to settle for the status quo, and more of a soul searcher. We want more! And not only do we want more, we want to feel empowered in what we do. We want to feel as though we are living in alignment with our values and the good of the earth. And we want to feel a sense of purpose, a means of actualizing our gifts to make a difference in the world.
Organizations are shifting to meet the needs of our new emerging world. They are recognizing that it is not enough to simply be responsible on an operations level. It is not enough just to get the job done. They must also be socially responsible to their employees, stakeholders and the earth itself.
Organizations are becoming emotionally and socially intelligent. They are looking for ways to boost team morale through collaborative leadership models, wellness incentives and employee recognition. They are holding regular professional development events to not only enhance professional skills, but to also provide resources around healthy eating, self-awareness, communication skills, self-care and lowering one’s carbon footprint.
Management is becoming more adaptable and innovative. They are considering new technologies, engagement practices, and holistic policies that support a healthier and productive workplace. To continue doing something just because it has been done for 30 years is no longer practical. Instead of saying, But this is the way we’ve always done it, management is now asking, What is the newest approach; What is the latest methodology; What does the most recent research say? They are willing to get off the straight and narrow path to consider the new and unknown.
When we think of traditional leadership we think of people who are strong, determined, focused, knowledgeable, forthright and assertive. While these qualities are still important, alone they are not enough in today’s world. We now need leaders who are vulnerable, flexible, silly, curious, imaginative, sensitive, intuitive, open and playful; leaders with the internal capacity to respond to the emotional needs of others, and thrive in the unpredictable, ever-changing, messy, innovative world of today.
This means that we must blur the line between being professional and personal, and engage others from the fullness of who we are. Bringing all of our Self to work, not just who we think we should be or those aspects we deem professional, is paramount. When we become whole in the workplace, we create a holistic organization, a system open to a wider range of possibilities, that is inclusive of a variety of viewpoints and considers the wellbeing of others and our planet.
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