Updated: Nov 28, 2020
By Sharon Sun and Kimberly Yang (Human Capital Team 1)
As we transition into an era of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and increasing technological optimization in our workplace, the need for thoughtful and empathetic human leadership has never been more pronounced.
In the pandemic, we have seen many examples of such leadership in the form of adapting to virtual workplaces and online initiatives, while balancing the needs of diverse employees. The future of work looks bright - certainly, one studded with values of inclusivity, encouragement, and empathy for a diverse group of employees. Simply put, inclusivity is not a benefit, but a requirement to create a productive and welcoming workplace culture.
Thought leadership is one where a leader is able to put themselves into their employees’ shoes - to not look at their workers as employees, but as fellow human beings. What do they need? How can workplaces help them, so they, in turn, can help the company? Human capital has always been the most valuable resource and should be upheld with the appropriate high regard; after all, it is not always renewable. Will a months-long conference be helpful, or can something be condensed into a project that takes a couple of days? Will people really want to participate in a workshop that could have been an email? Will they want to participate in a long call that could have been better communicated in briefing notes? In the virtual world, we should take these things into consideration when adjusting to our new surroundings. Sometimes, certain things become redundant, particularly given the timing and context of our lives. We should adopt them to suit the needs of our employees and the context of our environment, as opposed to not adjusting at all. It’s part of knowing when to stop and when to continue. What matters is context - something that thought leadership emphasizes. Forward-thinking and situational awareness, if you will.
Each employee should feel valued as if employers are aware of the situational uniqueness of everyone's lives and backgrounds. Together, everyone achieves more. This open-mindedness is the foundation of rethinking diversity and what it means to be inclusive: having empathy.
We move into new surroundings every day. We are surrounded by machines and computers at home, often more likely than being surrounded by people. It is the defining trait of excellent leaders to have empathy, be encouraging, and remain optimistic to foster a dynamic culture of inclusivity and value that goes beyond the screen of a computer.