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The Career Move of a Decade is Waiting For You…and Time is Running Out.

The Career Move of a Decade is Waiting For You…and Time is Running Out.

The future of work — which we’ve already entered — is changing rapidly toward the "next normal" – a hybrid of the virtual and physical work environment. As this shift occurs, new opportunities for leadership and innovation will emerge, making your next career move likely the most important one you will make in the coming decade.

Here is why now is the perfect time to pivot.

[Related: Six No-Fail Tactics to Pivot Your Business With Immediate Results (And Long-Term Impact)]

1) Systemic shocks create time-sensitive opportunities for innovation.

COVID-19 represents this century’s most significant shock to the traditional workplace environment and has created a systemic shift in the way businesses and leaders operate.

The decentralization of teams within the new virtual workforce, in particular, has left an opening for managers to re-think the way they operate and make decisions. This is important for three reasons.

First, it has the potential to reward employees for innovative thinking and problem solving. The pandemic has given businesses an opportunity to implement new digital platforms, tools, and technologies at scale in ways that were not previously possible.

Many have had to rapidly develop new standard operating procedures to respond to emergency “stay at home” orders, and this has put increasing pressure on employees to step up and meet the challenge of remote working. This has brought a series of hidden advantages, however, for those who know how to capitalize on this disruption.

For example, where ideation and innovation may have previously required employees to navigate an entrenched series of steps, approval processes, and red tape, each employee now functions with a higher degree of autonomy, allowing new ideas to flourish in a more accommodating work environment.

This provides a strategic opportunity for businesses and leaders to encourage higher degrees of experimentation on how to best approach non-traditional methods of collaboration and for forward-thinking employees to begin developing new solutions.

2) "Virtual leadership" skills will be highly sought after in the "next normal" work environment.

This furthermore allows for the development of new variants of “creative abrasion” to occur – i.e. where two people of different backgrounds, views, and experiences exchange ideas giving risk to a spark of innovation.

In traditional work environments, those who naturally embody qualities of self-confidence, extroversion, and dominant styles of leadership tend to have greater influence on decision-making and team dynamics. In the virtual work environment, a synthetic “social equalization” effect is starting to occur, where other personality traits and characteristics are given room to shine, including those who espouse different approaches to team-building, leadership, and communication. This creates space for new leaders to be recognized and promoted.

The new brand of "virtual leadership" will place a premium on hybrid skills – those which essentially combine the individual traits of independence, self-organization, and efficiency with team-based skills such as effective communication, collaboration, and leadership.

The most effective way to demonstrate this balance, for those looking to take advantage of this shift, is to demonstrate subject matter, or skill-based expertise, with the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively across platforms. Social media is a powerful vehicle for demonstrating your leadership potential. Best practices include:

  1. Posting high-quality, relevant content regularly to distinguish yourself as an expert and to develop your unique voice and brand in the industry.
  2. Engaging regularly with the content of other industry leaders to increase visibility and collaboration.
  3. Upgrading your knowledge and skillset so you continue to stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive edge.

Finally, the employment of “digital empathy” — the ability to convey compassion and authentically connect across digital platforms — will also be highly valued and should be nurtured and incorporated into the new workplace culture. Showcasing your ability to incorporate this form of emotional intelligence in your daily work will differentiate you and improve your management skills and leadership performance.

[Related: Three Ways to Use a Crisis as an Opportunity to Stand Out]

3) The crystallization period will reward first movers.

The key is to begin repositioning yourself as an industry expert and leader starting now, while the virtual work environment is still in its embryonic stages. When you position yourself strategically, you’ll attract opportunities that will align and pull you to where you want to be.

As the dust from COVID-19 begins to settle and the new hybrid infrastructure begins to take form, managers will be looking for leaders to fill the new roles that have arisen as a result of the virtual shift. The key is to strategically reposition yourself before this crystallization period occurs.

The pre-crystallization period we are currently in is best characterized as a time-limited wave of mass experimentation sparked by the rapid adoption of new technology, and a concomitant openness by organizations and managers to new ideas, approaches to workplace innovation, best practices, and standard operating procedures, as well as new forms of leadership.

This is a crucial window of opportunity to evaluate your individual strengths, talents, and career goals, and to pivot so as to reap the greatest benefits from the current state of flux. Your results will be significantly improved by setting up a support system, connecting regularly with your mentors and sponsors, and consulting an executive coach or expert on how best to ensure you are best placed for catalytic career growth in the years to come.

Future-proofing your pivot.

As automation increases, the leaders and entrepreneurs that will thrive in the next normal are those who harness human capabilities, such as self-awareness, intuition, curiosity, empathy, authenticity, and collaboration.

To truly stand out in an innovative way, we need to approach unconventional partners, identify underutilized channels, and invent new business models.

Innovation starts on a personal level. To thrive in the current reinvention revolution, we need to invest in being proactive when it comes to reinventing ourselves, rather than sitting back and being reactive.

The only person stopping you from unleashing your impact is you.

[Related: A First Time Manager's Guide To Managing People Remotely]

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Hana Dhanji is the CEO and Founder of Hana Dhanji Executive Coaching. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, a Masters in International Affairs, and a Juris Doctor and MBA from the University of Toronto. She is also a board-certified NLP Specialist, Hypnotherapist, and Executive Coach. Prior to starting up her company, she worked as a corporate lawyer on Wall Street and brings her corporate experience to bear on helping high-performing professionals and entrepreneurs achieve performance breakthroughs in their careers and lives. Sign up for a free breakthrough strategy session today and follow her on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Saleema Vellani is the Founder and CEO of Ripple Impact, which runs an accelerator for entrepreneurs who are seeking to grow their platforms and businesses. She is also an Adjunct Professor at University Startups for Social Entrepreneurship and teaches Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins University. She is a global keynote speaker and the author of Innovation Starts With I, which aims to redefine innovation. Sign up for her free biweekly newsletter and follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.


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