Wow! Where the hell did 2021 go, and why did it leave us with so many work environment leadership challenges that none of us saw coming at the beginning of 2020? We’re struggling how to manage a blended (at home / at the office) workforce and either losing workers as part of the Great Resignation (yeah, that was predictable) or trying to attract the talent we let go during the pandemic back to our company.

That’s what’s facing most of us in 2022. What worked in 2019 didn’t work in 2020. What worked in 2020 didn’t work in 2021. And this being the first newsletter of the year, let’s talk about what will work in 2022?

The basics. That’s right, let’s get back to the leadership basics in 2022. If you haven’t read the phrase ‘leadership hasn’t changed much in a couple thousand years’ in one of our newsletters or heard it in our coaching, you must be new to Triangle Performance.

Why do I believe in the basics? When’s the last time you heard a service industry employee say unsolicited, “I have the best boss ever!

It had been so long for me that I was stunned when I heard it.

I was simply picking up my dry cleaning near closing time one evening when I expressed my appreciation that this small, local dry cleaners was able to stay open through the long period when none of us were getting our business clothes dirty. She nonchalantly replied, “That’s because I have the best boss I’ve ever had.”

To be honest, I was so surprised I didn’t even ask her why… until the next day. I went back and asked what made her boss the best.

  • “He talks to us, not at us.”
  • “He has a large workforce but makes an effort to know each one of us individually.”
  • “He made sure each of us was okay with reduced hours during the pandemic but never had to let anyone go.”
  • “If we make a mistake, he helps us learn how to learn from it and not repeat it.”
  • “If there’s conflict in the workplace, he addresses it immediately and helps us resolve it so we can all work together cooperatively.”
  • “He takes time to talk to me as a person and really listen; I feel like he genuinely cares how I’m doing.”

HOLY LEADERSHIP SKILLS, BATMAN!

You can accuse me of making this stuff up for the sake of our business or because I ran out of things to write about, but that would be your loss. This is the unadulterated result of real-life leadership, and it’s so basic that we should be embarrassed if our team doesn’t already feel like this person does.

Think of those bullets as a to do list for 2022.

So I’m going to call this boss Karl, because I want you to think of him as a real person and not just the boss. That, and the only guy I actually know named Karl couldn’t possibly be confused with the boss.

I wanted to find out where Karl got his secret leadership sauce, so I called him. Surprised and with humility, he quickly told me he didn’t do anything special… which was true. None of the statements above reveal anything special, except maybe not letting anyone go because of COVID.

Karl succinctly summed up his leadership philosophy’s source: “I had a great boss when I was younger.”

From watching his boss, Karl came to believe it’s not all about making money but also about helping others. Karl asked, “Who else is going to help those who work hard catch a break if not us bosses?” Good question.

Because Karl knows all his employees individually, he can tell when someone’s a little off and looks for little things he can do to make a difference. I dare say that while some of us may notice when our folks are having a bad day, very few of us would take the next step like Karl.

How about that last bullet up there? Really Listens and Genuinely Cares!!! Not nearly enough of that in the workplace – or in the home or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Karl tries to live out his motto “If you care, I care” with his people, and it shows.

One of a leader’s top responsibilities is developing new leaders. I’m glad Karl’s boss took that responsibility to heart… and so are his employees.

So what can we do that we know will work in 2022? Leadership basics. Let’s dust off our basic leadership skills and start the new year off on the right foot, shall we?

It’s up to you, leaders.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

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