During Layoffs Here’s How Leaders Can Be “Pattern Pioneers” For Long-Term Success

Summary: Pioneers are typically free-thinking, adventurous, spontaneous, and highly creative. Leaders who sort out the difference between a work problem and an ongoing work pattern can lead their companies to long-term success.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

My organization is going through the pain of layoffs. I know we are not alone here. However, that does not lessen the upset we all experience.

Therefore, I will make this short and straightforward.

For example, how can we redesign the organization, so it is solid and ready for the complexities right in front of us?

Mostly, we will have to do more with less.

When companies must trim down to survive, fear often takes the lead.

I “fear” that is what is happening in my company.

Everyone is stretched, and the word at the office is they cannot do more.

On the other hand, if they cannot do more and we cannot hire replacements, I fear we will lose some of our retail stores.

Thus, I worry.

One more thought: You talk about the difference between work problems and work patterns. Can you expand on that for me?

Learn the difference between work problems and work patterns.

For instance, I wonder if I am stuck in old ways of thinking that hinder new ideas.

As an illustration, I apologize; it is my “old pattern” to be long-winded. I am aware of this and working to change.

Therefore, I will stop and wait for your answer.


Yearning to be a Pattern Pioneer

Work patterns that repeat and repeat cause a constant upset.

Dear Yearning Pattern Pioneer,

The good news is you are already on your way to leading your company to success.

How do I know?

You can already observe your tendency to talk too long. And you acknowledge that it is a pattern.

You are not pointing fingers to blame others.

Yay, you!

Work problems resolve in one or two attempts, while work patterns cause long-term frustrations.

Next, you are looking for solutions because you know you talk too much to get your point across.

Please remember that leaders talk last; it is your task to be more succinct.

There is a line in Stephen Sondheim’s play “Into the Woods’ that sums up too much talk and too many details: “Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell.”

Now, what does it mean to be a pattern pioneer?

Pattern Pioneers are innovators and creatives who are also logical thinkers.

Firstly, I want to describe the qualities of a Pattern Pioneer.

Here goes: They are the innovators, the visionaries who see a new way.

Next, they invite the first adapters to join them.

At this early stage, there is some safety to experiment with the new way of working together. It isn’t disruptive to most employees or the existing power structure.

Thus, it is often ignored or ridiculed as “that soft stuff.”

It is time to include mental health tools to help employees grow

Based on my work, I find those fearful of change make jokes about “how “weird” to connect what I did as a child with how I behave now. That is called “psychobabble” or something F*c*ing stupid.”

On the other hand, working with early adapters during the past 20 years has been excellent.

These early adapters, primarily CEOs, SVPs, and entrepreneurs, have incorporated programs and coaching into their companies to explore how patterns from your original organization, the family, show up in your present environment at work.

You can read more about this in “Don’t Bring It To Work (Breaking The Family Patterns That Limit Success).”

It takes a brave soul to connect the two areas of life in a work setting.

For example, when there are layoffs, the memory of a parent losing a job often creates a sense of numbness in an adult who becomes depressed and fearful about the future.

Only courageous leaders permit truth to drive communication.

Thus, it is up to leaders, strong individuals, to create the environment for psychological safety to thrive.

As I show in the book, once enough people begin to move in a new direction, you will hear arguments like “This is dangerous.” “We must keep work and home separate.” “It will NEVER work in our organization.”

Innovative ideas enter a time of disbelief before more individuals can move from “now” to “new.”

Then comes a time when we must defend and protect the new way. This is the time when new communication methods and collaboration require validation.

However, statistics cannot measure the long-term changes when humans come together for the greater good.

History shows us that throughout human history, social and cultural norms change over time, not all at once.

Think about it this way. Until our post-pandemic world started to open again, where did you ever hear about mental health at work, quiet resignations, or hybrid work?

Here are the stages for change to occur. Think about where you see yourself.

  1. Innovators: Create new ways/products and love to take risks
  2. Early adapters: Seen as thought leaders who make reasonable decisions with enough information to participate in creative change
  3. Early majority: Often risk-averse yet willing to take the advice of early adapters and give change a chance
  4. Late majority: Tend to hold back and remain skeptical, worried that what is new is a fad, merely a flash in the pan. They yearn to maintain the status quo.
  5. Laggards: Ignore what is new and resist what could make their lives healthier and happier. They blame others for whatever is happening and are not critical thinkers. The “don’t rock th boat” mentality.

We need Pattern Pioneers to help us cross the bridge to new ways of working together.

When we need a novel solution to a problem, the Pioneer is an excellent person to ask because they tend to use original approaches in solving complex problems.

Here is a quote to remember:

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” — Deepak Chopra

Here’s to your success,

Sylvia Lafair

PS. Want a free excerpt from my book “Don’t Bring It To Work” to give you a head start for moving past communication patterns that can get in the way of success? Please email me, and sign up for my newsletter here.

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Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options