Leading like a Tiger in 2022

According to the Chinese calendar, 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. In their mythology, the Tiger symbolises confidence, passion, and determination. Not surprisingly, 2022 is being recognised as the year that will bring these qualities even more to the fore, particularly as economies and societies across the globe continue their post-pandemic rallies.

But what does the Year of the Tiger, with all its vaunted mythology, mean for leaders and leadership in the 21st Century?

For many, 2022 is already being closely looked at as the proverbial leadership “make or break” year; a time when leaders will be called upon to shake loose the shackles of the previous years and take even more risks – confidently and competently.

Risks that are expected to pay off handsomely in the future.

But this cannot occur overnight. We cannot expect leaders to suddenly switch from 1st gear to 4th gear in an instant; to suddenly recover from all that has happened and, in the same breath, be ready for what is to come. Leaders are asked to accomplish our goals even as the pace and demands of modern day business make it seem almost impossible to do so. Almost impossible but not never.

Good Habits
The best leaders have been taking notes over the past two years, with all the disruptions and changes, and have adapted to them. They have quietly formed habits of growth and development, of learning and practice, and of being firm and flexible.

What’s more, they have tried to live them day after day, incorporating them into their routines.


Because the best leaders understand that the year that we eventually will reap will be the one that we worked toward building, played a great role in shaping, and prepared ourselves and our teams to benefit from.

This is the year of the Tiger for good reason, folks. In celebrating such an auspicious year, placing the spotlight on excellence in leadership qualities, could there be a more apt time for leaders to draw upon those tiger-like traits deep within as they stare down the challenges of the present and seize their futures?

Could this be a time for leaders to reform positive habits, to rediscover their voices and, perhaps, relearn how to roar?

I believe so. But it will take practice to achieve. It will take leaders forming and then reforming those habits that are an essential part of success and winning.

Let’s look at a few of those habits.

Confidence, or more accurately, self-confidence, is an essential part of leadership. Leaders with self-confidence are able to form and build upon healthy habits of thinking positively about the future. They are more willing to take the risks necessary to achieve their personal and professional goals because they are assured in their abilities and those of their teams.

Conversely, leaders who lacks self-confidence are less likely to feel that they can achieve their goals. Arming ourselves with bad habits that undermine your self-confidence is tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot. It is a sure fire means of cultivating a negative perspective about yourself and what you could possibly hope to achieve.

Needless to say, forming a habit of doubting your abilities or even getting into the habit of overestimating them (or being overconfident) is destructive to leadership and success.

Of course, not every leader is born with self-confidence, and that is ok. We are talking about building healthy habits. We are talking about the continuation of a journey of growth over the past two years with an eye fixed on where we see ourselves in the future.

Self-confidence is something that we can all improve and build upon over time. The leader wishing to make a habit of confidence is able to face their doubts (and Lord knows we have many), and then key into that doubting voice within, identifying and learning from it, and most of all, leveraging it into confident words and actions.

It may seem like a lot just to be confident, but again, the overarching aim is practicing healthy habits of confidence…daily and without exception.

If you focus on your competence and your teams’ capabilities, you’ll find the confidence you need and more.

Passion may seem like a perpetually moving goal post. How can we remain passionate when it seems like adversity is always around the corner? And it probably is.

But that is what makes passion all the more important. It is that drive within that compels us to keep doing what we are doing – because doing so matters and it matters a great deal to us.

Passion is something profound and personally meaningful. It is about vision (when the future seems a bit obscure) and then turning that vision into reality. It is about being a source of positive, renewable energy (especially when the team is flagging) that inspires others to get involved, and weather the tough times in the hope of better. It is about that enthusiasm and optimism that is essential in keeping sight of, and hitting, the targets we set for ourselves.

In short, a leader, by very definition, must be the personification of passion. Therefore, in cultivating habits of passion, it is just as much about embodying it and spreading it as it is living it. Each leader took a decision to pursue the path that they are on. That decision was borne of a fundamental love for what you do and it continues to be nurtured by the attention you give to it.

Not surprisingly, building a habit of passion eventually leads to mastery and success, in large part, because you are always thinking and working on the thing you are passionate about. Passion is also contagious. If you want to have a passionate, inspired workforce, it begins with you – the leader.

If we want to be passionate leaders and foster a culture of passion in our organisations, we have to practice it, constantly. We have to make demonstrating that passion a habit. We have to keep that passion going as we inspire employees and stakeholders to continue this journey with us out of the pandemic and into the future.

We must make it a habit of being passionate by expressing genuine enthusiasm and sharing why the organisation does what it does –why and how the organisation makes a difference, why our people continue to make a difference. To inspire passion in our people, leaders need to be vocal and excited about why the organisation matters, and, in turn, our people will come to see us more as leaders who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Without passion, employees will not sustain the energy and focus necessary to help the organisation truly succeed and make a difference. Nor will we as leaders.

The key to successful leadership in the post pandemic era is determination. Without determination, nothing gets done. All the plans, ideas and goals we create will live and perish on the pieces of paper on which they are written, unless there is that perseverance from the top to make them come to life.

Determination not only separates us leaders; it defines us. Two different leaders can have the same ideas and strategies but the one who has the determination to see those plans through is the one who is able to inspire that determination in their teams. They will be the leader who will see the fruits of their labours.

As the 20th Century German philosopher, Max Horkheimer stated “Our task is continually to struggle, lest mankind become completely disheartened by the frightful happenings of the present.”

The first healthy habit in channelling this determination is cultivating the practice of being proactive; of being willing to do what is necessary and beyond, even without being told to do so. As leaders, it is also imperative that we develop healthy habits of mobilising the people we lead and serve to achieve shared goals. This is determination at work.

Day-to-day business is fraught with instances where our people may not completely agree with the decisions or directions that we are taking them towards. And that’s ok. It is more important that leaders assert themselves and demonstrate the determination to maintain the momentum towards the goal.

It should come as little surprise that the most successful leaders in history are often the most determined. I can assure you that this level of determination didn’t spring up overnight. It took time. It took sacrifice. It took practice.

A lot of people can start the race, but not all will last. When it comes to determination, we must pay attention not only to our competitors but also to our people and ourselves to see whether we have what it takes to finish the race.

“Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright.”

When the 18th Century English Poet, William Blake, penned that line as part of his classic work, “The Tyger”, he may have be referring to another force of nature, but the similarities are stark and the same.

Leadership in the 21st Century, in the post-pandemic recovery era, can be a force a nature all its own. We have our fair share of challenge on the horizon, but I respectfully submit that we are better prepared now than we were five or even two years ago for it. And even if we are not fully, there is still time. We have to make the most of it. Practice may make perfect but Healthy Leadership Habits make excellence.

We just have to make a daily and continuous effort toward the goal.

What are some ways that you are your team are seizing the year of the Tiger? How are you rediscovering your voice? Your roar?
Let us know.

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