8th March 2022

Leading with relevance

By Lindsay Christink, Associate

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and the amazing achievements of women across the globe, the theme this year is ‘gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,’ Lindsay Christink, Associate in our London Studio talks in this piece about how we all need to lead with relevance

Consider the past five years. The Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements have challenged systemic injustices. COP26 with its inaugural Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day shone a light on our industry, highlighting the need for investment in Environmental, Social and Governance practices.

Uncomfortable questions have been, and will continue to be, raised within our industry. Meanwhile, the great resignation, a symptom of the new generations pushing for purpose-led integration of work and personal life, is shifting the power balance to employees.

In an industry still suffering from staff, skills and materials shortages, the competition to remain ‘relevant’ as a business (and a leader) is acute. Leaders of teams, businesses and communities are expected to respond to change more quickly than before (the commonplace phrase of 2020, pivot, springs to mind).

American researcher Dr. Brené Brown notes that, “The number one cause of shame at work is fear of irrelevance. The number one cause of fear of irrelevance is change.” It begs the question – how do leaders and businesses stay relevant with all this change afoot?

Through the last decade of my career, I continue to be amazed by the fast pace of technology growth – some of which I can no longer hope to master. With this comes the danger of feeling deskilled, out of my depth, and increasingly reliant on others to do ‘my’ work. As a team leader, I’m asked to leave behind the routine thinking patterns and question how I could do better. This is uncomfortable work, and often I do not have all the answers.

Having to find the balance, and transition to a less-defined or understood purpose can be difficult, and at times I have been tempted to dig in my heels. But static thinking and stubborn righteousness will not safeguard me from my fear of becoming irrelevant. And I still need to have answers for my team.

As I progress in my career, I realise that perhaps good leaders know they do not have all the answers. When the only constant is change, and according to Brown, ‘there is no change without discomfort’, it’s time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable in order to lead – with relevance.

Leading with relevance