It’s the start of the year and inevitably everyone starts thinking ahead, what will I achieve this year? What do I need to change? Can I get more balance in my life? Is 2023 the year I do something dramatic and find another role!

We’ve had an influx of such conversations with our community over the last few weeks, but there is one common thread – you know when it’s right for you to move on, whether you’ve lost the spark to inspire your team, have finally found that passion and purpose you’ve been craving or simply realised that you’re completely burned out.

On that note we’ve seen in the news Jacinda Ardern has sadly announced she’s stepping down as Prime Minister of New Zealand. Regardless of whether you agree with her politics you can’t deny the impact she has had on our expectations of leaders, she’s been an inspirational role model for women (and men) embracing the new type of leadership.

Many may say she’s leaving before being pushed out, but isn’t that another trait of great leaders? Knowing when it’s time to move on and when someone else can do better, being brave enough to realise you are no longer the best person to lead the organisation?

We reference one of her recent articles below. For all of those leaders out there who are caring, kind and empathetic, Jacinda Ardern is proof that these traits are essential strengths. That this kind of leadership is exactly what people are looking for, from their bosses to their world leaders.

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Would you take a pay cut for a better work-life balance?

If the answer is yes, then according to a recent article by People Management magazine, two-thirds of people would agree with you, with the majority of people seeking out hybrid and remote working.

These results are not surprising as flexible working becomes increasingly desirable for employees and candidates. This means that businesses can attract and retain the right talent for their business by offering benefits and services that support the well-being of their people, with as much flexibility and choice as possible.

The research also shows that two-thirds (62 per cent) of employees would be tempted to change jobs if they had a say in how often they worked in the office.

Find out more about the importance of flexible businesses and how they are increasing employee well-being by giving them more autonomy, flexibility and work-life balance.

As leaders, it comes as no surprise when research shows us that we can retain employees in our business by creating a healthy, supportive, empathetic, and highly communicative environment.

It may surprise you though that recent research shows 57 per cent of employees quit because of their boss. Another 14 per cent have left multiple jobs because of their managers and an additional 32 per cent have seriously considered leaving because of their managers.

In what is increasingly becoming a “war for skills” leaders should be looking to lead with authenticity and empathy to attract, retain and grow talent.

There has been a great deal of publicity recently about the resignation of the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, who became known as someone who leads with kindness, compassion and strength. In 2022, she delivered a powerful speech at Harvard University speaking about the importance of democracy and kindness.

She said of her role recently “I actually decided I didn’t necessarily want to build some tough exterior. Instead, I just learned how to filter things; how to kind of take on board that criticism and listen to it when I needed to, or otherwise say, ‘Well, actually that person’s just coming from a very different perspective’, and just learn how to filter it. And so that was a really big learning curve, you know? Actually, the world doesn’t need a whole lot of massively thick-skinned politicians; they do need people who care.”

Find out more about why the future of leadership is kindness.

There is one book that has remained on the desks of the REAL. Leadership team this January.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to be Calm in a Busy World by Haemin Sunim and Chi-Young Kim. In this timely guide to mindfulness, Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist monk born in Korea, offers advice on everything from handling setbacks to dealing with rest and relationships, in a book combining his teachings with calming full-colour illustrations.

Many of us in the team have joked that we haven’t had the time to read it but it reminds us of the strength and joy that comes from slowing down.