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What Comes Next: Relationships and Empathy Drive the Future for Business in 2021

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As this extraordinary year winds down, we cannot help but think about how it has reshaped our lives. From the way we do business to how we learn and interact with others to how we connect, everything has changed.

I have had the privilege of mentoring and coaching businesses and professionals through many transitions, challenges, and economic downturns throughout my 25-year career. This is not the first time I’ve seen challenges and change. And it's not over yet — 2020 is still filled with adversity and uncertainty. But I believe 2021 brings an opportunity to lean into the lessons we learned to grow professionally and personally. This is an opportunity to build resilient communities and businesses, as well as provide a roadmap to help us grow forward.

So, What Comes Next for 2021?

Relationships Are Critical

The world of work as we know it is not the same. Professionals will need to rely on strong relationships to propel things forward. Job seekers and employers will need to draw on their networks and relationships for support, inspiration, and professional growth. My involvement with NAWBO provided me with the support I needed to push through when I was challenged. People helping people and connecting with other humans is really what it’s all about. As I reflect upon my years as a Girl Scout and with my daughter [Editor's Note: the author's daughter wrote a piece earlier this week for CircleAround on her Gold Award Girl Scout project] earning the Gold Award, I recall the line in the Girl Scout song: “Make new friends yet keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.”

Empathy Is Imperative

We are juggling more than ever before. Distance learning, working from home, and being caregivers is a typical workload for families. Leaders will need to be empathetic and flexible to be the most effective. I hope that we can all pause and place ourselves in another person’s shoes to attempt to understand the challenges they face. This perspective allows you to be a better source of support — not only for your work team, but for your family and friends, too.

Embracing Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity Will Continue

The current environment unveiled that there is still plenty of diversity, equity, and inclusion work to be done. During my time as president of NAWBO San Antonio, our chapter won the National Diversity Award. It was a proud moment that acknowledged our work to become a better organization by embracing diverse and inclusive initiatives from the inside out. There is still so much more to do on that front — each person can open their mind and heart. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) initiatives will continue to play a vital role in 2021, as they contribute to more well-rounded and resilient businesses and communities.

Building and maintaining relationships, acting with empathy, and embracing change through DEI initiatives will move us into the bright future that is 2021.

Barbara A. F. Greene is Founder and CEO of Greene and Associates, Inc., a Career Partners International Firm in San Antonio. Greene and Associates enhance organizational resiliency through talent-management strategies, such as executive coaching, leadership development, career transition and career management, and corporate mentoring.

CircleAround is partnering with NAWBO (the National Association of Women Business Owners) in a series of posts exploring the following prompt: "What comes next?" Founded in 1975, NAWBO is the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States.

CircleAround is operated by a wholly owned subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA. The site serves women nationwide by providing content that is uplifting, thought-provoking, and useful. We make revenue distributions back to GSUSA so they can further their mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.


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