5 Of the Biggest Change-Making Ideas from 2018

by Zoe Mackey

January 12, 2019

“Vote with your feet” is a phrase you hear a lot around Berrett-Koehler offices. It means to go where you feel you can have the most impact.

And in the new year, it got us thinking.

You might already know that our mission at BK is about connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all. And, to start off the new year, we wanted to get a sense of just what kind of ideas were connecting with you, our readers. So, we decided to do a little research to uncover the paths your feet have been traveling around the BK blog. 

Our goal? Learn just what kind of change-making ideas you have been engaging with most over the past year. We tallied up our most popular posts, read your comments, and poured over the Tweets and Likes. While hardly comprehensive, our survey of your favorite posts from the past year certainly provides a sense of what ideas are trending when it comes to creating a world that works for all. Read on to discover the top change-making ideas we blogged about in 2018!

 

1. There’s a new leadership model on the block...and it's here to stay.

Leadership is a tricky business, but one thing is certainthere is no one-size-fits all leadership model. Over the last twenty-some-odd years, pioneer leadership experts and bestselling authors such as Ken Blanchard and Margaret Wheatley, and even Berrett-Koehler founder and CEO Steve Piersanti, have questioned the hierarchical, command-and-control aspects of traditional leadership models, offering instead new models of leadership that are rooted in service and compassion.

So, it’s no surprise that one of our top posts from 2018 is The New Leadership Paradigm by Steve Piersanti. But picking just one article in this topic is like choosing a favorite child! Read more about the five leadership styles that can influence business outcomes, why a leader's vulnerability is actually a source power, and why the best leaders serve their people one at a time (courtesy of bestselling author Ken Blanchard). And don’t just take it from usorganizations around the world are embracing new leadership paradigms and seeing great results.

 

2. Culture: It eats strategy for breakfast.

Mobilizing employees and teams toward a shared vision is essential to getting the right workplace culture. Good culture leads to higher levels of trust among teams, deeper engagement, and a sense of ownership. People feel they are tapping into their passions to work toward a purpose. These days, organizations can’t afford not to invest in this!

So how do you go about building a culture that’s both high-trust and high-performance? We addressed the question directly and in two of our most popular posts by exploring how leadership styles impact culture and how a servant leadership approach can help when things get toxic. We also explored how diversity and inclusion are essential to culture and, courtesy of bestselling author Mark Miller, why it's important to create a culture that prioritizes engagement. This brings us to our next point!

 

3. It’s 👏 all 👏 about 👏 engagement 👏 and 👏 development.

Attrition is a topic that feels icky to talk about, and that’s because we often approach the conversation as a reaction to employees leaving. At that point, the organization has already lost out on valuable talent and might be witnessing increased burnout among remaining employees due to people jumping ship. Not to mention it’s expensive. But what if we were able to intervene and even, dare we say, make top talent excited to stay on by actively encouraging engagement and creating dynamic career development plans? We know, we know – career development and engagement conversations often get pushed to the back burner amid the overwhelm of day-to-day tasks, which is why we weren’t surprised to see that our list of 20 employee engagement activities to inspire and energize was one of your favorite posts of the year. 

But wait, there’s more! We’ve got 4 key lessons from employee engagement experts, advice on the best ways to build trust and engagement among teams, plus tips to help new leaders become the boss everyone wants to work for. Oh, and for good measure, here’s some background on gauging employee experience in your organization and to shape your employee retention strategies. The more you know, you know?

 

4. Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity: We must talk about this at work! 

Though they can sometimes force us to confront uncomfortable truths, the topics of Diversity and Inclusion have become ubiquitous in business conversations. These conversations range from how businesses can share D&I implementation strategies and program management, to how diversity undeniably powers innovation, to the more publicly controversial #DiversityFails that highlight just how much of a detriment it is when a company doesn’t get this stuff right. Recall, for instance, the infamous Starbucks incident, in which Starbucks employees were motivated by racial bias to call police on black customers. In one of our most popular posts from 2018, D&I expert and author Howard Ross unpacked how Starbucks handled this error.

Understandably, conversations about subjects like gender, race, religion, and politics in the workplace can raise some eyebrows, but the bottom line is that they are necessary. Other popular posts in this topic showed why diversity efforts are not enough without efforts around inclusion, how D&I done right empowers their best and most innovative selves to work, and, courtesy of diversity expert Judith Katz, how creating a sense of interaction safety is key to the bottom line and employee experience.

 

5. The time has come to move beyond Lean In

Speaking of Diversity and Inclusion, this past year we spent a great deal of time thinking about what “The Future is Female” really means. In our 2018 online summit dedicated to advancing women in leadership, we confronted the question of how to support more women taking more leadership roles. And, from a broad societal standpoint, we certainly saw some progress in area: NPR reports that the US Congress now has the highest representation of women ever. But we must also recognize the distance we still have to go across all sectors and industries. 

It’s no surprise that some of our most popular posts in the last year highlighted inspirational women leaders. BK authors like Krysten Sinema, freshman Senator of Arizona, Cheryl Bachelder, Sonya Renee Taylor, and so many more have been pioneers in revolutionizing how women in positions of leadership are creating networks of relationships and influence that upend the hierarchical leadership model of yore. Other popular articles offered advice on growing your influence at work, leveraging allies and mentors, and increasing your capacity for courage and risk-taking.

So that's it! The most popular change-making ideas we wrote about on the BK blog, according to you. 

At the risk of getting sentimental, we really can’t thank you enough for sticking with us in service of the greater good over the past year. Between political partisanship, an unpredictable and turbulent economy, and an ever-accelerating rate of change, 2018 certainly tested our endurance in our efforts to create a world that works for all.

But through all the noise, we witnessed big strides for positive change. Through you, we saw continued progress in the effort to develop modern organizations that offer life-affirming purpose and contribution to the social good. We saw the application of new leadership models across more and more organizations and heard growing calls for more inclusive and equitable workplaces. And while the world certainly continues to turn, we remain hopeful for what's to come.

This leads us to our most pressing question of 2019: When it comes to creating a world that works for all, what are you most excited to talk about in the coming year? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on social .

Topics: Your World, Women in Leadership, Leadership, New Leadership Paradigm, Diversity & Inclusion, Engagement, Staff Retention Strategies, Workplace Culture

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