How leaders can build a future of work that works for everyone

Ahead of our Transform North America event, we speak to five business leaders to learn how they’ve answered the challenges of the last year by putting people first.


It’s not exactly news to point out that businesses have been through an unprecedented crisis over the last 14 months. But in every crisis, even this one, there’s always cause for optimism. What makes us hopeful is how business leaders have answered the challenges of the last year by putting more emphasis than ever on their people.

Why is that important? Because out of the darkest times we have an opportunity to build a brighter future - a future of work in which every employee has equal access to technology and opportunity. But we’ll only get there by giving people a voice and listening to their needs.

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Leading a connected company

This is what we mean when we talk about creating a future that works for everyone. And it's a topic we discussed in detail at Transform North America 2021, our flagship virtual event, alongside an incredible lineup of leaders from some of our favourite businesses including Chevron, Petco and Smartsheet.

Tales of business leadership by business leaders
Transform North America: building a future of work that works for everyone

While there are many different definitions of leadership, our guests at Transform all have something in common. They embody the leadership traits of connected companies. They are honest and authentic. They inspire trust and lead with purpose.

Rhonda J. Morris, VP & CHRO at Chevron, is a case in point. Rhonda will be talking about what it means to be a leader with Christine Trodella, Head of Americas for Workplace. For Rhonda, being authentic has meant embracing the fact that she’s not your typical Type A personality. In fact, she’s an introvert - but Workplace has helped her connect with other introverts while leveraging her own, unique strengths.

"I’m part of a ‘quiet leadership’ group, which is a group for introverted leaders to connect with one another," she tells us. "It’s a hugely valuable source of information where challenges introverts experience - like being quiet in a meeting - are shared."

According to Rhonda, while she might not be the first to speak up, writing her thoughts on Workplace has been a powerful way to share what’s on her mind - and show care for her broader work community.

"I recently wrote a note about grief," she recalls. "I wanted to let people know it’s okay not to be okay. One employee sent me a message back asking me if I was okay. This was an employee in a refinery - someone I likely never would have met if not for Workplace."

Leading with empathy

Leading with empathy

For Megan Hansen, Chief People & Culture Officer at Smartsheet, examples like this say something powerful about the experience we’ve all just been through. "The last 12 months have been an equalising event," she says. "We’ve all been on a crash course in empathy. Everybody has had the same seat at the table. I hope we don’t reject that as we move forward."

Megan, who’ll be joining us at Transform to talk about building community in a digitally enabled world, is focused on making sure that Smartsheet doesn’t forget the positive experiences it’s had during lockdown while moving on from the negative. Thanks to Workplace, she says, "I see all these people who I wouldn’t ordinarily cross paths with otherwise. I can make new connections and see new parts of the business."

Leading a community

Leading a community

Glenn Sanford, Founder & CEO of eXp World Realty, agrees. In fact, the ability to see into all parts of the business is key to his leadership style. "My job as a CEO is to look around the corner," he says. What does he see? "Collaboration and community. We need to figure out how to create serendipitous conversations in a remote-first world."

eXp’s real estate agents have been 100% remote since the company was founded in 2008. Glenn will be sharing more insights about that in a panel discussing whether connecting the unconnected is a competitive advantage. Right now, he’s clear on how Workplace gives him an advantage as a CEO: "I’m constantly consuming content on Workplace. I call it my ‘organisational scanner’. It allows me to be omnipresent, and it allows me to blend formal and informal communication."

Glenn will be joined on 23 June by Aimee Daily, SVP & Chief Transformation Officer at Memorial Health Systems, and Jenny Wolski, SVP of Omnichannel Customer Experience at Petco.

Leading with trust

Leading with trust

According to Jenny, true leadership is all about trust, and Workplace plays a key part in enabling it. "We realised that happy employees lead to happy customers, and our people can go further when they’re empowered," she says. "That takes trust. Because we have Workplace, we have that trust. We connected the hearts and minds of 26,000 people in 1,500 locations. They’re active, engaged, passionate, committed and real."

Memorial Health Systems Aimee Daily takes it a step further: "I don’t know how organisations can afford not to have a solution like this in 2021," she says. That said, getting the rest of the C-suite at Memorial to agree took a different kind of leadership.

"Selling Workplace to my stakeholders was the hardest thing I’ve ever done," she reveals. But in the end, the question she asked them was simple: "If not Workplace, then what’s the answer?"

Leading with urgency

Leading with urgency

Because make no mistake, today’s leaders need answers. Employees expect it. Many of them are demanding it. As Jenny Wolski puts it: "We need to act with urgency. We have an opportunity to be part of the change in America. We have to speak up. And not just say it, but really mean it."

Smartsheet’s Megan Hansen understands the difficulties involved in making these kinds of decisions, but also has a final piece of advice: "For a lot of leaders, the challenge when it comes to acting is just mindshare. There’s a limit to how many things the business can contemplate at any one time. Or the number of new things that can be absorbed into the system. My advice is to start small. Take a bite that’s manageable then build mindshare and momentum."

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