5 Leadership Predictions You Need to Know for 2021

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While Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the workplace in 2020, it fast-tracked changes that would have taken five years and crammed them into five months. Leaders were tested in ways they never imagined possible. They showed flexibility and adaptability to not only survive the brutal year. Now the calendar change has turned their attention to what’s ahead.

It’s finally 2021, which means a new round of leadership predictions. Last year’s predictions aged reasonably well, such as managers having to learn to lead remote teams. Others not so much, such as large organizations looking like universities (it’s getting closer, but not there yet.) This time around, I look at some current trends continuing because of Covid protocol and some contrarian perspectives to help you lead your best in 2021. 

1. The Coaching Rage Infiltrates Managers

The boom in professional coaching is real. Organizations and individual contributors sought professional coaches to help boost performance in 2020. Thanks to companies like BetterUp and Soar, the cost of professional coaching is no longer out of bounds for leaders below the C-Suite. This trend doesn’t slow down in 2021 thanks to technology, the gig economy, and HR Executives looking to develop leadership skills earlier in employees’ careers.

However, it doesn’t stop there. More managers will start acting and behaving like professional coaches to their team members. The signup rate from the first two Coaching for Excellence virtual workshops shows me managers are putting on their coaching hat much more often than they used to. 

Key Takeaway: Expect managers to look for professional coaching certifications and companies to offer internal coaching programs. 

2. Character Counts Again

You might think this is a result of the 2020 US Presidential elections, but you would be wrong. The character test in both political parties is at an all-time low. I defined character in Building the Best as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” The time is now for leaders to do what is right and measure themselves against right and wrong.   

Scott Olster highlighted Adam Grant in his Linkedin 2021 predictions, “As we strive to overcome a global pandemic and an economic recession, the character of leaders, will matter as much as their competence. In 2021, servant leadership will be a competitive advantage.”

While being a servant leader doesn’t guarantee results, it does guarantee an edge in recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent.   

This blend of high character and servant leadership will continue to be a competitive advantage in the marketplace. While being a servant leader doesn’t guarantee results, it does guarantee an edge in recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent.   

Key Takeaway: Low character leaders won’t last, and servant-minded professionals will get their opportunities to lead. 

3. The Same Person at Work and Home

It’s almost crazy to think we used to be one person at home and another person at work. Not only has this been going away, but it’s also finally getting fast-tracked. People want to talk about their hobbies, kids, families, and side projects. 

However, it doesn’t stop there. With the Pandemic having a severe impact on our mental and physical health, leaders will have no choice but to embrace the whole person at work.  

This means leaders must get to know their people personally to uncover irregularities in behavior. Expect companies to invest in gym memberships, in-house therapists, and embrace faith beliefs in the workplace. 

Key Takeaway: Empathy will win over judgment in 2021

4. Less Tolerance for Average

It might seem strange for me to follow up on the last prediction with this one. However, the reduction of the workforce and organizations trimming duplicate roles in the last year proves the future isn’t going to tolerate average. 

The only way for a team to thrive is to have each team member choose excellence.

The only way for a team to thrive moving forward will be to have a team full of people choosing to be excellent. Too many professionals are living out their careers by accident instead of excellence. Unfortunately for professionals making this kind of decision, the leaders and companies that desire excellence won’t tolerate them in their organization. 

Key Takeaway: Don’t go through your career by accident; choose excellence. 

5. In-Person Events are back by Q3 or Q4 and Bigger Than Ever. 

How good of an ending would this Pandemic have if we returned to a semblance of normal human interaction? One of the ways this will happen is by going to industry conferences and having an entire company in one room together to celebrate achievements.  

While anyone who says they can predict this Pandemic’s future would be lying, expect the hospitality industry and live events to come back raging when people feel safe again.  

By no means is our new virtual workforce going away. There is too much financial incentive for companies, and most employees love remote work flexibility. However, when companies and teams do get together, they will go all out.  

Key Takeaway: Patience is a virtue. We will be human again. 

Which predictions do you agree or disagree with? 

Coaching for Excellence Workshop: The development of your coaching skills and relying on a coaching framework will make a tremendous difference in helping you lead your best in 2021. Join John on January 20th for the next live Coaching for Excellence Workshop from 12-1 PM EST. Sign up today and get the 2021 Leadership Plan for free today!

7 Best Practices for Developing Leaders In Your Organization Download the free whitepaper here.

The Leadership Development Day – John is speaking at this one of a kind virtual personal development event on February 4th, 2021. Use the code LDDLearnLoft, and save 20% of your registration. https://cvent.me/1PRR7a

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

7 Wise Pieces of Advice That Will Change the Way You Lead

I define a leader as someone who’s actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others over an extended period of time. 

In an effort to help provide you the best pieces of leadership advice I have learned it’s important to keep in mind the things you do, are the things that matter most. The best leadership advice revolves around you and your actions.

1. Never lose sight of your character.

No one can take ownership of the mental and moral qualities distinctive to you. Stories of people in leadership positions making questionable or downright poor decisions are constantly circulating through the media. The danger is, they begin to seem normal and even expected. What’s even more alarming is those making the poor decisions often don’t pay an immediate price. 

Each day, you may come across a decision that tests your character. An immediate gain or the idea that you won’t get “caught” is tempting, but your decisions can have negative ramifications long beyond the moment, impacting those who had little involvement in your decision-making process. Only you can see who is really staring back at you in the mirror. When making decisions, consider why you’re making them and what will happen in both the long and short term. Lastly, don’t forget the famous quote from General Robert Caslen, “If you fail at character, you fail at leadership.”

2. Everyone is fighting a battle.

A mentor of mine once told me, “Everyone’s going through something whether you know about it or not.” For some, this might mean addiction, marital issues, behavioral issues with children, personal depression, loss, or other struggles. 

Everyone on your team is going through something. Take this into consideration every time you enter into a conversation with them. While you can’t fight their battles for them, you can be kind and empathize.

3. Reject power, collect hearts.

Henry Ward Beacher said, “Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right using of strength. He or she is the greatest whose strengths carries up the most hearts by the attraction of their own.” 

Your greatness as a leader won’t come from gaining power (promotions, titles or earnings), but instead collecting the hearts. What’s ironic is the best way to collect the hearts of your team isn’t to wield your power but to share your own heart in an authentic way. 

4. You can lead right where you are.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is thinking they can’t lead until they get the big promotion. There are literally hundreds of opportunities each day where you can choose to elevate others right where you are.

One of the most memorable pieces of advice I got was during an episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast from former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, “If not you, then who?” Choose to lead right where you are because there is no one better than you, right now.

5. Forget your personal agenda.

There is nothing worse than someone who inserts themselves into positions of leadership simply to achieve their own agenda. Usually it’s camouflaged as a good deed for others, but in reality, it’s to boost their own ego and complete things in their best interest.

If you are going to change the way you lead, it’s imperative you set aside your personal agenda. This doesn’t mean you can’t achieve things or accomplish personal goals, but it means your heart has to be in the right place when you step into positions of leadership.

6. Everyone has the potential to be extraordinary.

In the business world filled with President’s clubs, awards, and bonuses, it’s easy to begin to believe that only some are meant to be extraordinary. But no one is ordinary and each person needs someone in their corner to give them a standing ovation.

While I am not in the camp of handing out participation trophies, I do believe in leaders investing in and showing each person they are made to do something extraordinary. Inspire and motivate your people every day. Sometimes, all they need is a little spark from someone else to make it happen.

7. You can’t lead everyone, don’t take it personally.

Why is it we can hear praise from one hundred people, but the one negative comment is the one that sticks with us? One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is taking it personally when they lose a team member. Having 100 percent buy-in rarely happens (if it does at all). Just take a look at the CEO approval ratings on Glassdoor.com.

While this can be tough to hear, don’t waste time and energy on people that aren’t putting in the work and rejecting the mission the team is on, it’s a losing battle. If you’ve put in the effort and they’re not giving back, move on. There are too many great and capable people in the world who want to get better to waste any more time. 

Lastly, leadership is a journey, not a destination. Your best days leadership days are ahead of you if you want them to be.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: The Proven Leadership Framework to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

With 1 Sentence John McCain Taught 3 Lessons For You to Remember About Leadership

There are those who speak about leadership and then, there are those who are leaders. John McCain is the latter. Surviving nearly six years as a Vietnam Prisoner of War, this great American hero went on to serve as Senator of Arizona. Despite his unsuccessful run for President in 2008, McCain’s achievements amounted to plenty.

On Saturday, August 26th, 2018, he lost his battle with Brain Cancer at the age of 81. McCain left us with copious amounts of insight, but for me, this quote holds the most weight:

“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone.”

This is one of those loaded quotes that unless you unpack it doesn’t quite sink in or have the full effect. Here’s my interpretation that you may find applicable somewhere in your business.

Freedom shouldn’t be about just you.

Human beings are almost constantly chasing a feeling of liberation. By definition, liberate means, “to set (someone) free from a situation”. McCain knew quite a bit about being set free. During his time as a Prisoner of War in the Hanoi Prison, he was offered unconditional release a year into his stay. This he refused. His reasoning? He didn’t want to jump ahead of his fellow soldiers who had been imprisoned longer.

By today’s standards, McCain would likely have been chastised for seemingly passing on the opportunity to return home. Despite this, I’d venture to guess that he wouldn’t have cared what others were thinking. No matter where you’re at in your career, whether it be running a billion dollar startup or dreaming of your next big idea, don’t ignore this example. Make sure the freedom you desire isn’t focused on you sitting on a beach by yourself.

Fight for a cause bigger than yourself.

It wasn’t because McCain acted inherently against the grain that he was given the nickname of “Maverick”. It was due to the lack of importance he placed on which side of the political aisle someone sat on. His driving force was always doing what was right for the American people. This was McCain’s true cause.

Had his sights not been set on making the United States a better place to live, McCain inevitably would have lost momentum. Fighting for something bigger than yourself and more impact than the monetary, as McCain did, will keep you grounded in your mission. Connect to consumers through your business and hang onto the reason why they need your products or services. In being able to do so, you’ll find that your business improves.

Don’t let your job define you.

While it would have been easy for McCain to return from war and settle into famous oblivion, this decorated veteran chose the opposing route. He didn’t want to hide behind his Silver Star, two Legion of Merits, Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals or Prisoner of War Medal. McCain made the decision to be defined by the kind of man, husband, father, grandfather, and friend he was rather than his job.

This doesn’t mean McCain didn’t do all that he could to become President of the United States. He did, however, maintain who he was at his core instead of letting his dreams and goals consume him.

As many of us know, pouring your heart and soul into a job in order to win in today’s ultra-competitive business world is a near necessity to be successful. Maintain the mentality that regardless if you win or lose in the workplace, you’ll be able to go home at night knowing you demonstrated strong character.

A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also a sought after speaker for companies and conferences. He hosts the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

5 Useful Truths for New Leaders

Here’s a story I’ve heard too often: A professional has finally arrived at a leadership position because of their relentless pursuit of achievement. To their surprise, the moment is bittersweet. While they alone bear the responsibility for their team’s success, they find that they’re unable to control what determines it. The realization hits them that they finally have authority, but they can’t seem to use it to move their team in the right direction. Not to mention, they are impacting people’s lives – both positively and negatively based on the decisions they make every day.

Ultimately, it isn’t quite what they expected out of their dream job, and they begin to think,

“Maybe I shouldn’t have pursed this leadership position so relentlessly.”

Being a leader is different and more complicated than you can imagine, but don’t let the unanticipated stumbling blocks make you rethink it. It’s the toughest, yet most rewarding experience any professional can undertake.

Some surprises for a new leader arise from lack of experience and knowledge limitations. But most happen regardless of your pedigree. I have discovered that nothing in a leader’s background prepares them to know the right thing to do all of the time.

Through my personal leadership journey and working with, interviewing and studying great leaders, I have found five useful truths:

It Takes Longer Than You Think

Before becoming a leader, most people have been successful in their previous roles. They are skilled in their craft and relish the opportunity to lead a team or organization. They want to get results, and get them fast, and that’s a good thing. However, remembering my favorite proverb is vital when taking on a leadership role: “Patience is a Virtue.” Any new leader should memorize or put it at the top of their whiteboard. In this fast paced “I want it now” society, it’s so easy to forget. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Doing great things takes time; so, if you are a new leader, prepare yourself for a marathon, not a sprint.

Your Character and Values Will be Put to the Test Sooner Than You Think

Few people would argue the importance of character and values in a great leader. But new leaders aren’t necessarily used to the power and responsibility that comes with their new role. You will find yourself in a position that requires tough decisions to be made, and your principles tested. Doing what you believe is right all the time, will not only make your job easier, it will make you a respectable leader.

People Matter the Most

 The leader is undoubtedly the most powerful person on any team. Yet the minute they believe this power makes them more important than any one member of the team is the beginning of the end. Remember it’s people who; build software, maintain client relationships, take action towards reaching goals, and make you laugh. Losing sight of your most important resource is a surefire way to stagnant results. People should take precedent over everything else.

You Are Always Sending a Message

Most leaders, regardless of experience know that their actions get noticed by their team. What new leaders generally don’t realize is the extent to which those actions matter. Team members watch and communicate about everything.   These observations impact culture, motivation, and work production among others. Keep in mind, not only do your professional acti

You Won’t Have All the Answers

Experienced leaders know that they won’t ever have all of the answers, while new leaders think they need all the answers, and they need them now. It’s actually a liberating experience to figure out that you don’t have the answer to a problem. Then and only then are you able to reach out and listen to the team around you. The best leaders are able trust and rely on their people to help him or her solve problems and reach goals.

How well and how quickly leaders understand, accept, and confront these truths will have a lot to do with their success or failure.

Getting Leadership Ready. LearnLoft’s out of the box training approach to helping professionals understand what leadership is all about and to stand out as potential leaders. If you think you personally or your organization could benefit from such a program, find out more here.



Top 5 Tuesdays 2.18.16

Here is your weekly dose of Top 5 Tuesday: A list of things we are thinking, reading, watching, or doing to stay on top of our game and we think you should too:

Articles Worth Reading 

How to Become a Change Agent Creator with Taught Leader John Kotter

@Keenan does a great series on on his blog called “Taught Leaders” where he highlights great thinkers and ideas.  Here he highlights change expert John Kotter’s book, Change. Our favorite line “without change, there is not growth. There is no innovation. There is no advancement.”

Quotes Engrained in Our Minds

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

What Podcast We’re Listening To

How Seth Godin Manages his Life- Rules, Principles, and Obsessions

This was a no brainer because its probably the best podcast we have ever heard. Tim Ferriss had  Seth Godin (@thisissethsblog) on the podcast. He is the author of 17 bestselling books that have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the way ideas spread, marketing, strategic quitting, leadership, and — most of all — challenging the status quo in all areas. The interview was beyond good.  Tim even retweeted us he liked it so much.


What We’re Watching

A couple powerful lessons in this one minute video from The High Calling.

Tip of the Week 

Whats the most popular app we use every day? Audible.  There is no better platform out there for audiobooks.

Please let us know if there are suggestions for articles, quotes, shows, or tools we should highlight. Tweet us at @johngeades or@learn_loft.

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