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How Organizations Are Preparing Their Leaders for the Next Big Challenge

July 14, 2023 Alison Sancinito

Leadership has always required the ability to motivate others and to meet and overcome obstacles—and great leaders for generations have risen to those expectations. What makes leadership different now? Today’s leaders must also lead the business, culture and people, all with an unwavering commitment to inclusion. They need to be agile and empathetic to navigate the what’s now and what’s next of leadership at a time in history when change is happening at such a rapid rate.

Hybrid work models are here to stay, creating new challenges and opportunities. Burnout is mediated by leaders acting and demonstrating a commitment to the wellness of their people. Gen Z’s flexibility and unique perspectives are changing the way we serve. It is an exciting time to be a leader, and it is the best moment to offer leaders the opportunity to build their skills to meet these new demands. Instead of preparing your leaders for a specific thing, it is time to help our leaders prepare themselves for anything.

Do your leaders have the skills to navigate what’s now and what’s next with purpose and an inclusive mindset?

Recently, Jim Link, CHRO at SHRM, led a roundtable discussion with HR leaders to discuss the evolving expectations of leadership. It was an honest conversation about the challenges and hopes of leaders today, filled with insights on how organizations can empower and equip their leaders to succeed. Access a recording of the full conversation, then dive into these next steps for leaders to take to maintain hope, embrace challenges and to lead successfully.

4 Steps You Can Take as a Leader to Navigate the Right Now and What’s Next of Leadership

1. Learn from one another.

Build a network of leaders to lean on and learn from when it comes to navigating your own leadership journey. Our roundtable discussion engaged webinar listeners and the panelists themselves, who left with notes and innovative ideas. By listening to one another’s strategies and stories, leaders can learn new ways to lead effectively and inclusively. Natalie Hyatt, Senior Director of Learning & Development, Travel + Leisure, puts three key leadership practices into place that other leaders can use on their own journey:

  • Practice radical empathy.
  • Stay hopeful.
  • Do things that matter and make a difference.
2. Commit to leading inclusively.

Linkage’s research confirms that the most effective leaders are purposeful and lead inclusively. Our research shows that organizations with inclusive cultures are 1.5x more creative, collaborative, and innovative. A purposeful and inclusive leader builds a culture where people want to stay and bring their best selves to work.

How our panelists commit to leading inclusively:

  • “Listen to your people and understand what it is that they want. What are they feeling? What do they need from their leadership? Listen with an empathetic ear. We did a listening tour that was supported from the top down. Don’t just make assumptions before asking and listening.” –Natalie Hyatt, Senior Director of Learning & Development, Travel + Leisure
  • “Social inequalities exist and it’s my role to focus on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ around equity. We encourage our staff to challenge the status quo.” –Godfrey Bethea, Jr., Vice President of Equity, People and Culture, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
  • “The people who identify and live their purpose and are more inclusive are the most impactful leaders in the workplace.” –Jim Link, CHRO at SHRM
3. Tap into your power of purpose.

With all the expectations and asks of leaders today, it is critically important for leaders to tap into their power of purpose. This means leading with strengths and leaning into the commitments that empower you to lead effectively and inclusively. Linkage’s Purposeful Leadership model highlights the five Commitments leaders need to practice in order to achieve breakthrough results. These Commitments serve as the foundation to Linkage’s Accelerating Purposeful Leadership Solution. As Jim points out, “the people who identify and live their purpose and are more inclusive are the most impactful leaders in the workplace.”

How our panelists lead with purpose:

  • “Purposeful leadership, when internalized by leaders, can be very powerful. Creating a culture of purpose creates a universal language and approach across the organization.” –Cindy Cake, EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, Ephrata National Bank
  • “Executive leaders at Lenovo clearly articulate the strategy and explain how teams and individuals contribute to that strategy, so we can be One Lenovo.” –Calvin Crosslin, Chief Diversity Officer, Lenovo; President, Lenovo Foundation; VP, Lenovo Human Resources
4. Champion Gen Z in new ways.

Jim explains that what we see through our recent research is that the most successful employers of the future will develop a culture of care. This culture of care is very important to Gen Z, who are filled with opportunity and capability but have different expectations about the world of work. Engaging new generations in the workforce will require new leadership skills.

Learn how our panelists champion Gen Z in unique and purposeful ways:

  • “Gen Z thinks differently about service to community. If you can’t articulate the societal good your organization contributes, you may be summarily dismissed as a potential employer.” –Jim Link, CHRO at SHRM
  • “In my role in learning and development, I focus on modalities and learning experiences, including gamification and microlearning. This is especially important for younger generations who were born ‘plugged in.’” –Bill Vallari, Learning & Development Manager, Fujifilm Holdings America Corporation
  • “Besides being hard workers committed to their company, Gen Z are very positive influencers. They are waving the flag of social responsibility and that inspires me, and it inspires all generations.” –Natalie Hyatt, Senior Director of Learning & Development, Travel + Leisure
  • “We listen and collaborate on what this new workforce is looking for. We do reverse mentoring with our executive team to think about our entire workforce. We identify what is important to Gen Z and the generation graduating today.” –Calvin Crosslin, Chief Diversity Officer, Lenovo; President, Lenovo Foundation; VP, Lenovo Human Resources



Purposeful Leadership gives leaders the skills they need to successfully navigate the evolving expectations of leadership. Our host and panelists champion leadership development as a key factor in the success of their organizations.

Companies with inclusive, purposeful leaders enjoy 2x stronger revenue growth, 4x profit growth and 9x employee engagement. Tap into the power of purpose by exploring the Accelerating Purposeful Leadership Solution.

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