leadership PE007

How to Become a Better Leader in 2022

Learn the three behaviors that you need to grow to become a better leader in this year of change so you can lead with compassion, positivity, and efficiency.

It is the start of the new year, fresh with possibility and hope. A new year provides us an opportunity to look forward and ask ourselves what we want to accomplish in the upcoming months. As we all think about our goals, I am reminded of James Clear’s concept from his book Atomic Habits: focus not on what I want to achieve, but who I want to become. So, what do I want to become this year? A leader that creates opportunities for others to grow and work at their highest potential.

This is a lofty goal, so I started by creating a list of my favorite leadership authors to understand how they conceptualize and achieve great leadership. The list turned out to be long! Some that stand out include: Dan Pink’s Drive, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, Lazlo Bock’s Work Rules!, Kim Scott’s Radical Candor, Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead, and Steven Rogelberg’s The Surprising Science of Meetings. As I contemplated each thesis laid out by these great leaders, I distilled down my goals into three behaviors to create the systems and environment to be the kind of leader I seek to be.

Becoming a better leader starts with these three behaviors

  1. Radical Transparency

    Radical transparency means engaging in rapid, clear, and honest communication. It means having a sense of urgency about communicating important information as soon as I receive it, communicating clearly about what is happening (no sugar coating or skirting issues or change), and it means being honest about why a decision was made. This also means repeating information more than once to reinforce important messages, being willing to answer tough questions, and admitting when I do not know the answer.

  2. Empathetic Leadership

    Empathetic leadership means connecting with those around us to understand their feelings and thoughts. It means showing compassion and being an ally in the face of setbacks and mistakes. It also means caring about people and demonstrating that care through clear and kind feedback and accountability. And importantly, it means understanding the goals and desires of others and creating space, and pushing them to work toward what motivates them intrinsically. Empathetic leadership is about growing meaningful relationships with others that can be leveraged to turn struggle into learning and conflict into growth.

  3. Better meetings

    Yes, I believe holding better meetings belongs in my top three behaviors for becoming a leader that creates the space for others to work to their highest potential. Research tells us 90% of people daydream in meetings, 73% of us do other work while in meetings, and in the US, we waste up to 30 billion dollars every year on time spent in unproductive meetings! So, how can we do better? I am going to start with these 3 strategies for more productive meetings:

    1. Create agendas: If the meeting does not have an agenda or purpose, cancel it. If the agenda does not require the whole time, shorten it. If the agenda is too long, prioritize, communicate in writing, or add items to the next agenda.
    2. Seek feedback: Ask participants for feedback about what could make meetings more productive.
    3. Keep it positive: Own the energy by redirecting when the conversation takes a negative, non-productive path and use the time to drive productive paths forward rather than dwell in negativity.

90% of people daydream in meetings, 73% of us do other work while in meetings, and in the US, we waste up to 30 billion dollars every year on time spent in unproductive meetings.

As organizations around the globe have been trying to turn the tide of the Great Resignation, becoming a better leader needs to be the focus in 2022. There are countless behaviors and models that define great leadership, so why these three? Because leadership is a practice and a habit, not an outcome. Like growing any skillset, it takes consistency, repetition, and practice. The behaviors laid out above are not new, but rather well-established best practices of successful leaders. Focusing on these three behaviors will create the systems and environment for me and you to operate as a leader who helps others work to their highest potential. So, what habits will you grow this year?

Want to learn more about leadership and how to build habits that lead to growth? Check out this strategy focused on using pace and consistency to build a better employee experience.


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Erin Lazarus

Erin Lazarus is a people science enthusiast and Industrial-Organizational Psychology leader focused on building teams that provide the opportunity for every person to work at their highest point of contribution. She leads teams to design powerful candidate and employee experiences that allow organizations to harness the power of their people. Her teams partner with business leaders using science and data to enhance people strategy in areas including employee selection, workplace assessment, organizational culture, employee engagement, performance management, succession planning, and leadership development. At SHL, Erin consults with clients to transform productivity through deeper people insight.

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