A New Year, A New Opportunity to Lead

In Insights by MVP

This past year has been an extremely challenging year for many companies, and unfortunately, some of those challenges may stick around into the new year. With that said, and as we look forward to 2021, it’s important that leaders start to form a plan that can help tackle some of these challenges, and ultimately, will help their team move forward in a positive direction. 


Flexible leaders have the ability to change their plans to match the reality of the situation. As a result, they maintain productivity during transitions or periods of chaos. Leaders skilled at this competency embrace change, are open to new ideas, and can work with a wide spectrum of people. Tomorrow’s leaders must learn to treat uncertainty and ambiguity as the new normal. Being flexible includes large changes, but also trickles down to everyday activities that are subject to change. In this section, you will learn tips for flexibly responding to unexpected events in a diverse work environment.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you. Leaders set the tone of their organization. If they lack emotional intelligence, it could have more far-reaching consequences, resulting in lower employee engagement and a higher turnover rate.

While you might excel at your job technically, if you can’t effectively communicate with your team or collaborate with others, those technical skills will get overlooked. By mastering emotional intelligence, you can continue to advance your career and organization.


Empathy is a distinct facet of your emotional intelligence. It is similar to sympathy and compassion, but it is slightly different. The basic definition of empathy is that you have the ability to recognize, understand, and feel the emotions of other people. It also means you can respond appropriately to some other person’s thoughts and feelings. 

Empathy enables you to know if the people you’re trying to reach are actually reached.  It allows you to predict the effect your decisions and actions will have on core audiences and strategize accordingly.  Without empathy, you can’t build a team or nurture a new generation of leaders.  You will not inspire followers or elicit loyalty. Empathy is essential in negotiations and sales:  it allows you to know your target’s desires and what risks they are or aren’t willing to take.

Right now, plenty of folks are dealing with tremendous fear. Those guided by empathetic leaders will likely have an easier time working through their stresses, while others operating under a “business as usual” manager may become disengaged and resentful. Make no mistake: Leaders will be judged by how they react during this historic moment. Of course, leading with empathy is not an innate ability. Even if you have a high emotional intelligence quotient, we can  always use refresher course in empathy and leadership.

The importance of authentic, purpose-centerd leadership that embraces our vulnerability and differences while promoting resilience cannot be ignored. In 2021, we will need each of these important traits to be active in today’s leaders while we bounce back with confidence and help sustain organizational success.

Megan Van Petten
Van Petten Group INC.