What we call “future of work” is at its core a deep collective shift regarding the way we work, contribute, lead and live. 

It is a co-construction, that needs of course to be believed in, encouraged and supported by leaders and managers, and… it requires also that employees play their part too: For it has a real potential to give their power back to employees, it will also require a change of positioning from them, from passive to proactive. And it is a journey to go from one to the other.

The foundations for that co-construction, that apply to everyone in a company are:

  • self-awareness

  • communication

  • trust

This is what will lead to pro-activity, engagement, empowerment, innovation… and the prerequisite to a healthy and efficient remote-friendly culture. When facilitated properly, and with patience, people will grow ownership of who they are, what they want to do, how, with who and on what terms: it creates healthy, stimulating, and fulfilling organisations as well as powerful added-value.

This crucial change will not be something natural for most people, it will be at best elusive, at worse scary. Why? Because of the amount of exposure to command-and-control environments most have experienced since kindergarten. Power figures take various shapes over the years: parents, teachers, and later, managers and sometimes mentors or even spouses or friends sometimes. A lot of conditionings and limiting beliefs result from this. Some might also have a history of repressive or toxic management in previous or current job. 

Consciously or unconsciously, most people have adopted passive behaviors as a way to protect themselves (they stop trying, or did not even start to engage in the first place).

The internal struggle between where they would like to be and where they are at in terms of mindset will be real. It is exactly like a bird that grew in a cage ,and suddenly the door is open… He might not see it, and even if he does, he does not know what it implies, if he can go, where, how, do what, with who… 

You don’t go from 0 to 100 on the pro-activity scale in the course of a few weeks or months, just because the company values have been set, and trust and pro-activity are amongst them...

It is a journey that starts at the basic level: self-awareness. And this path has to be walked by EVERYONE in a company, from CEO to entry-level employees.

What self-awareness is: 

Self awareness is about gaining knowledge and understanding about how you function at every level: 

  • physical (your own rhythm and your sensitivity)

  • mental (the way your collect, process and express thoughts & informations, the tasks you naturally excel at - even if not in your job description, your beliefs, your values, ...)

  • emotional (your emotional patterns and triggers, your emotional engagement (or dis-) what makes you come alive, your values here again,...)

  • spiritual (your projects, dreams, purpose, drive, values - again! - as well your capacity to project yourself in these)

In parallel (and closely connected) to that inner understanding, it is equally as important to understand how your environment (places, people, situations) and the nature of your everyday tasks affect you. That reflection will give you complementary insights and also feed the inner reflection.

The importance of leadership mindset shift

While the number one priority when willing to implement a deep cultural change within a company or corporate (with key words such as flexible, innovative, dynamic, engaged and human centered) is to focus on growing self-awareness, leadership training  has to be implemented in parallel, in order to maximise chances to be effective and transformational. Not your average tool oriented leadership training where people learn non violent communication or MBTI. While these are great tools, I am talking about the kind of transformational intense training, deeply focusing on mindset work rather than tools… Tools are here to serve a bigger picture. Goal being that the era of old-school management is finished, now we need leaders who understand they are here to serve their employees.

If you grow self-awareness without changing your manager’s leadership understanding and approach, you are setting a bomb that will explode sooner or later. And vice versa, leadership training for managers without focusing on growing self-awareness will fall short.

Once this is on track, the first goal of this combo of new leadership and growing self-awareness should be to focus on how to build a trust-based environment. Then and only then people will start taping into their growing self-awareness to reflect on why, how and on what they would like to be proactive. 

During and after this process, consistent communication and trust-generating managerial actions will encourage people to start taking actions.

What “trust” should look like:

Trust HAS to turn from a feeling to embodied every day actions. And that, ladies and gentlemen, requires (surprise!) A LOT of self-awareness, as well as tools to channel it into inspiring communication AND mandatory aligned actions.

Words and promises without congruent actions in everyday life and behaviors will be the deal breaker / trust-breaker. So is information retention. And if sometimes words and actions are not aligned (because it is a process, and there will be mistakes or setbacks - the essence of human beings), the dealsaver will be to acknowledge it, make amend, and reflect individually and collectively on why this happened and how to prevent it to happen in the future. It will for sure not be solved through egotic denial, threat, or by blaming / shaming.

Here more than ever communication will be important.

Trust does not build when things go right, it does when things go wrong and are handled collectively with self-awareness, communication and collective resolution. And yes, it will require….vulnerability.

And that will be the topic of another article. The change stands in that last word: vulnerability.

To be continued…