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New Career Mindset

How’s your career looking right now? The beginning of the year is always a time of reflection and introspection. We set goals for ourselves, we plan how we’ll grow our businesses and we focus on making this year our… Best. Year. Yet. Given the tumult of the past two years (yoh!), there’s an even greater sense of urgency to bring out the best in both ourselves and our careers in 2022. The question is, where do we begin? CEO of professional training and coaching company, The Hatch Institute, Ian Fuhr helps you get started.

READ MORE: Self-Coaching: 40 Questions That’ll Reveal Your True Career Calling

1. Transform yourself and earn the moral authority to lead

“I believe that the purpose of our life’s journey is to become an exceptional human being who will positively influence the lives of all the people we interact with,” says Ian. “When I work with leaders and individuals across organisations, this is always where we begin.”

To become an effective leader of people, and to earn the moral authority to lead in your career, it’s a good idea to first embark on a journey of personal growth and transformation. Because you can’t hope to change people and transform business cultures if you haven’t demonstrated your own ability to transform yourself, right?

Career transformation 101… To earn the moral authority, you will need to do the following:

  • Earn the trust and respect of your people.
  • Create a sense of belonging and common purpose.
  • Show a genuine concern for the well-being of people.
  • Be totally committed to their growth and development.
  • Create a place of safety in which people feel free to speak without fear.

2. Ensure your personal reason for being aligns with that of the company

Be crystal clear on your own reason for being. Er… reason for being? “What drives you, what inspires you, what are you passionate about and what are your strengths?” Ian asks. First, figure that out. (Ed’s note: We find that writing it down helps. Cue 2022 planners!) “Then make sure that you’re aligned with the company’s reason for being.” Ian gives a personal example: “The Hatch Institute’s reason for being is ‘Transforming Mindsets’ and my personal reason for being is ‘To inspire people to make a positive impact on the world’.” They fit. Or click.

READ MORE: 5 New Employee Archetypes That Nobody Saw Coming

3. Discover how you’re standing in your own way

Change begins inside your heart and your mind. Uncover your own paradigms, stereotypes and prejudices, and determine how they’re blocking your way forward. Ian says the blockers that could be holding you back include ego, fear, blind spots, shame, guilt, weaknesses, self-doubt and lack of self-confidence. This isn’t an exhaustive list – there are many more. What are yours? “On your journey of self-discovery, identify your blockers, understand where they come from and move out of your comfort zone in order to overcome them. Nothing ever changes in your comfort zone,” he says.

4. Discover your personal biases and overcome “paradigm paralysis

We make biased decisions and choices all day long because most of our normal activities involve bias. Do I want tea or coffee? Do I want warm or light clothes today? Do I want a walk or a run? Then there are more far-reaching biases, such as biases on diversity, which dictate our behaviour when confronted by people who are different to us.

“We tend to be unconsciously biased about the way people look, the way they dress, the way they speak, the way they behave and the way they show affiliation to a certain race, religion or culture. Possessing bias is part and parcel of the human condition and it is not always negative – it can be positive or neutral,” says Ian.

Ian believes that in today’s socio-political and economic environment, transforming mindsets is no longer a requirement; it’s a moral duty and an obligation to the upliftment of our country. The status quo is not sustainable; the only way forward is to transform mindsets and become flexible with our paradigms, he says. Even if it’s one mindset at a time. It’s okay to have strong beliefs, but hold them loosely.

READ MORE: How To Harness The Power Of “Positive Pressure”

5. Address racial polarisation

If we accept that none of us are immune to unconscious bias, says Ian, the next step is to admit that racism is still deeply engrained in South Africa. “If we truly want to transform our mindsets in 2022, we have to stop hiding from our unconscious biases and the racial polarisation we’re facing as a nation. Businesses need to have the tough conversations and address our unconscious biases in an empathetic and transparent way,” he adds.

It’s important to get everyone involved, from top leadership down through the entire organisation. “As a business, you can choose to ignore race relations within your organisation, or you can step out of the comfort zone. If you find the courage to explore our differences and understand the mindsets of others, you will not only build a business on the foundations of tolerance and respect, but you will build a strong culture which will boost productivity and customer service. Then you will build a truly diverse company that can rise to the occasion of meeting South Africa’s needs and challenges,” he says.

And listen – challenging your own paradigms about race is not without effort. It’s a clear and deliberate attempt to let go of years of conditioning and apathy. Nobody is saying it’s easy. But it’s critical – and there is no better time to start than right now. 

6. Embrace transformation through “culture-neering

In 2022, South Africa requires a new breed of business leader, explains Ian. A leader who has developed the culture-neering skills to build a culture of service in a polarised workforce; a leader who has earned the moral authority to lead in their career by earning the trust and respect of employees, and has created a sense of belonging for all people – regardless of race.

This type of leader first grows within themselves. They embrace change and take the hard road in their career. They accept that they must first be uncomfortable in order to ultimately walk a better path to becoming a great culture-driven leader.

Photo by Samson Katt from Pexels.

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