Influencing The Future: The Most Critical Skill For Career Success In 2021 & How To Build It

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The traditional top-down decision-making flow of traditional businesses has proven to be more of a roadblock than an enabler for success in today’s marketplace. When the competitive edge is about creating the new and carving out unexplored paths, a business needs all ideas on deck. But how do you ensure you are seen as one of the influencers inside your company vs. being seen as a troublemaker or impractical?

Below are tips for setting yourself up to drive your career towards success for 2021 and into the future:

Imagine a future that doesn’t exist. We’ve been trained to put out fires, nonstop. This past year has forced us to do this on a faster and greater degree than ever before. But tackling one issue after another breeds a reactive state of operating. This means the future will be determined by outside forces vs. created from the inside out. If you hope to influence the future of the business you are in, you’ll have to tap into something you had as a child in abundance but may have lost connection with as an adult – imagination.

This means giving yourself permission to let go of current reality, ignoring what others may think and let your mind follow your wants and dreams. What do you want the future to look like? What would you do for the company if money, resources and approval weren’t an issue? What should you and your function ultimately be doing to make the greatest and most positive impact for your customer base?


Develop an empowered mindset. The Limeade Institute, an employee experience software company that helps build great places to work, recently published a report on what they call Experience Activators and how these mindsets influence the success of individuals. They define Experience Activators as mindsets everyone has, which generate energy and expand our capacity to improve overall experiences and quality of life. These mindsets include resilience, purpose, mindfulness, gratitude, optimism, self-efficacy, openness and emotional regulation.

Their research shows that people with high levels of experience activators have low levels of stress, high levels of wellbeing, engagement, and productivity, compared to people with medium vs. low levels of experience activators. It also shows that these mindsets can be strengthened through both personal action and organizational support.

As an individual, they recommend you:

Be willing to challenge the status quo. Lisa Dodman, Chief People Officer at Unit 4, a cloud-based enterprise software company, shared that, “2020 brought a silver lining opportunity to HR leaders to challenge the norms of what’s been going on for 15+ years and really look at customer and employee needs through collaboration, innovation and creativity.” She emphasizes that empowering others to challenge the status quo is critical to take the best lessons from 2020 and continue supporting proactive change.

Dodman highlights that, “The best ideas can come from anywhere. As leaders, we don’t have all the answers, and it’s the companies and people that learn to take risks that tend to succeed. Remember, failure is how we learn to adapt in our new world. From the outset, our CEO has encouraged risk taking. Everyone has a voice and something unique to bring to the business. These ideas can change the entire path of a product or organization for the better, and finding these opportunities is critical to differentiation that successful businesses need today. Empowered employees work harder and smarter, and through empowerment will be more trusting of leaders, they need to unlock how they see that sense of being empowered.”

The best companies encourage people to speak up and share their views. But individuals need to take empower themselves. She recommends keeping these tips in mind:

Companies can and should support making this a safe and productive experience for employees. “At Unit4, every employee receives a short pulse survey every week so they can provide anonymous feedback on the company, its initiatives, values and how they are feeling personally in their role.

These engagement surveys provide a total view of how effective our leadership strategies are. This has been particularly valuable during 2020 as a remote working global company. Continuous engagement and conversations can encourage proactive sharing of viewpoints. Combined with 360 praise and feedback in our Talent Management system ensures a culture of openness,” called out Dodman.

Ability to work through conflict. Conflict is critical for creating the future. Healthy conflict is about debating ideas not each other. However, if conflicts were tough to work through in person, remote settings have created a hot bed for dysfunctional conflict. MyPerfectResume conducted a study on workplace conflicts in our new remote workplace. Their study showed some interesting statistics.

Key steps take to ensure you use conflict for good include:

Prioritize impact over ego. It’s easy to get caught up in point tracking. Did you get full credit for your contribution? While there’s nothing wrong with making sure people are aware of your contributions, it’s critical that you keep the impact as your main priority. This enables you to show up as a collaborative partner in any initiative. It also ensures others get to be part of the new future, increasing the chances that your ideas truly see the light of day. You have to ask yourself whether keeping control of your idea matters more than your idea growing into something bigger than what you originally imagined.

I believe we can all find careers we love with people we enjoy—but it requires a new mindset as we navigate the unspoken rules in today’s workplace. I’ve built my