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November Flight Path: Leadership priorities and recharging for the year ahead

Newsletter, November 2023

As we sail through the final weeks of the year, I have been wrapping up my big projects for the year and charting the course for 2024! In this edition, we'll explore priorities for leaders in 2024, unpacking insights, and sharing strategies to unwind and recharge during the upcoming holidays. Expect a sneak peek into what lies ahead for leadership and tips for a rejuvenating break.

Leadership priorities for the year ahead

I acknowledge that it's a challenging time to be a leader right now. The upcoming year presents leaders with more challenges and opportunities. There’s likely to be more disruption, uncertainty, and change.

Humans are facing a number of crises - climate change, political polarisation, mental health challenges, educational failures, pandemics, social media chaos, etc. - that are unprecedented.

We need leaders who can embody self-awareness, agility, and a blend of human-centric skills in a digital landscape, focusing on three pivotal areas:

ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance)

We are at a pivotal moment for climate action. The net-zero transition is reshaping the global economy, and leaders must embrace sustainability, understanding that profit and environmental/social responsibility aren’t mutually exclusive.

In a recent survey, 92% of business leaders believe integration of sustainability issues is critical to business success. Leaders who transition from a reactive stance to proactive, purpose-driven actions will drive growth, innovation, and positive cultures.

To embed this at the heart of organisations requires a new set of skills and mindset shifts from our leaders. Learn more about how to make sustainable shifts.

Inclusive leadership

Prioritising diversity, equity, and inclusion is paramount. We’re at a point in history in which people are finding their voices and using them to apply pressure to organisations and leaders who are lagging behind social and demographic changes.

Leaders need to foster environments where every voice is valued, challenging biases, promoting diverse talent, and cultivating cultures of belonging. Learn more about inclusive leadership.

Performance and wellbeing

The expectations and demands that are placed on today’s leaders are seemingly endless. Taking a holistic approach to leadership by prioritising your mental and physical health is integral for resilience and for leading a thriving team.

Recent research indicates a direct correlation between health and fitness and cognitive performance. Regular exercise, balanced nutrition and sufficient rest can improve stress management and overall mental wellbeing. Learn more about a holistic approach to leadership performance and wellbeing.

Deliberate rest: how to unplug on your holidays

With just over 3 weeks (25 more sleeps) until I jump on the plane to Japan, I've been thinking and planning strategies on how I can switch off, unplug, and deliberately rest.

Learning to recharge is a skill and we must be deliberate about how we cultivate this skill just like any other skill we want to develop. To ensure I am not tempted to check my emails or do some work, here are some tips to unplug and rest.

Set clear boundaries

Successful leaders and professionals have good work-life boundaries and when you're on vacation ensure your team knows when it’s acceptable or necessary to contact you (and agree on protocols) so that you can really switch off and unplug. Turn off notifications and badges for your email app on your phone so you don't see the number of emails or messages climbing.

Set clear processes with your team

Prepare, plan and delegate so the team and the business can function without you. Ensure your out of office is clear on who to contact in your absence and set processes or protocols in place for escalating urgent matters. If you're the person covering someone on leave, try your best to not contact them.

Practice deep play

No matter where you're heading on your vacation, try to incorporate and engage in activities that will challenge you physically or mentally such as rock climbing, painting, or skiing. Whatever activity you choose, it should be mentally absorbing, provide you with some of the same psychological rewards as your best work.

Get out in nature

Practicing deliberate rest while spending time in nature has many benefits, both physiologically and psychologically.

What I am listening to 🎧

If you only have time to listen to just one podcast episode about the essence of work (and life) and then I recommend this one. The Culture First episode featuring Susan David, Ph.D. (an award-winning psychologist from Harvard Medical School) is just what the world needs right now.

At the heart of this conversation Culture First host, Damon and Susan peel back the layers questioning why we’ve normalised the separation of emotions from our professional lives. Despite being fundamental to our human experience, emotions often find themselves sidelined in workplace discussions.

However, this conversation challenges that norm, highlighting how emotions intricately tie into our purpose, values, and productivity at work. You can also read my insights in this LinkedIn post.

What I am reading (or listening to) 📖

I am a fan of Oliver Burkeman and his book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals and this audio book, Epidemics of Modern Life is a compilation of his BBC radio collection.

Burkeman looks at four central ills of modern life - busyness, anger, the insistence on positivity and the decline of nuance. Talking to a range of experts, he discovers how these problems became so widespread, and how we can go about tackling them.

Quote I'm pondering 💬

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

I hope this was helpful and sparked some insights. I would love to hear your thoughts! 

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