Leadership in 2023: Adaptability, empathy and innovation
by Susan Avery, CAE

eadership has always been a critical factor in driving success and growth in organizations. The demands placed on leaders have never been higher. Rapid technological advancements, shifting demographics, unpredictable global events, a pandemic, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and soon, a global recession, have created an environment that demands adaptive, empathetic and innovative leadership.

Adaptability: Navigating Complexity

One of the key traits of successful leaders in 2023 is adaptability. The rate of change in the world today is unprecedented, and leaders who cannot quickly adapt to new circumstances will struggle to stay relevant. This requires not only a willingness to change, but also the ability to navigate complexity and uncertainty.

To be adaptable, leaders must be willing to let go of the past and embrace new ideas and approaches. They must be willing to take risks and experiment with new strategies, even if they may not initially understand the full implications of these changes. This requires a certain level of humility, as leaders must be willing to admit when they don’t have all the answers and seek input from others.

Another critical aspect of adaptability is the ability to pivot quickly in response to changing circumstances. Leaders who can spot emerging trends and adjust their strategies accordingly will be well-positioned to thrive in the years ahead. This requires a deep understanding of the market, customers and employees, as well as the ability to gather and interpret data effectively.

Empathy: Connecting with People

Empathy has always been an important leadership trait, but in 2023, it will be more critical than ever. The world has become increasingly diverse and interconnected, and leaders who can connect with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives will be more effective at building strong teams and driving innovation.

Susan Avery, CAE
Empathy requires leaders to be attuned to the needs and concerns of their employees and customers. They must be able to listen deeply, ask thoughtful questions, and respond with compassion and understanding. This requires a certain level of emotional intelligence, as leaders must be able to manage their own emotions while also responding to the emotions of others.

Another important aspect of empathy is the ability to build trust with others. Leaders who are perceived as genuine and trustworthy are more likely to inspire loyalty and commitment from their teams. This requires leaders to be transparent and honest in their communication, even when the news is difficult to deliver.

IAPD: Investing in Your Leadership Training

Each year IAPD gathers its Executive Committee, Board of Directors, committee and task force volunteers and staff, for a three-day Leadership Development Conference (LDC). The 2023 LDC will be on May 2–4, 2023 in Columbus, OH. In addition to the series of in-person meetings of each of these groups, IAPD provides two leadership workshops for the attendees.

Each of the leadership workshops, year after year, are designed as part of a leadership development curriculum for IAPD’s most active members and the industry’s current and future leaders. The topics and speakers change, but every leadership development workshop is an investment in the professional and personal development of those dedicated professionals who contribute thousands of hours in the betterment of the performance plastics industry and association.

2023 IAPD Leadership Development Conference
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging: How to Be an Inclusive Leader, Robert Beaven, Jennifer Brown Consulting (JBC)
As the COO/CRO of JBC and a Cornell Certified Diversity Professional/Advanced Practitioner, Robert Beaven is a self-described “Advocate-in-Training.”

Beaven believes that it is the responsibility of men, who traditionally hold positions of power, to use that privilege to drive positive change and ensure everyone feels Welcomed, Valued, Respected, and Heard℠. By meeting C-suite leaders where they are and without judgment, his goal is to help them see workplace dynamics through a new lens, so they can create more impactful organizations from the top down.

Why We Make the Decisions We Do: Namika Sagara, Ph.D., Behavioral Science Group
Dr. Namika Sagara is a behavioral scientist with a background specializing in the use of scientific approaches to understand, predict and implement behavioral changes. She leverages her 15-years of in-depth research experience to apply behavioral insights to market research, marketing strategy, wealth management and leadership training to help leaders understand “irrational” customer and employee behavior, as well as incorporate behavioral economics into various aspects of their businesses.

For our organizations and employees to continue to thrive, we must commit to a lifelong path of improving our leadership, and theirs. According to the late Warren Bennis, a pioneer in leadership studies, “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” Please consider joining us in Columbus, OH for the Leadership Development Conference, and work with IAPD to continue to build the industry’s leadership, and yours too.