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An Empowered Work Environment Inspires Energy, Creativity and Retention

This article was based on episode 066 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.

As our work days become filled with technology, tools, data and stress, a growing number of individuals are seeking organizations who’ve embraced a vision of work as a source of meaning and human flourishing. In parallel, forward-thinking organizations are transforming into a new kind of 21st century organization which can attract these individuals and win in the marketplace.

Future State President and CEO, Shannon Adkins, engages with clients who are ready to rethink everything about how their organization works in order to succeed in a world of constant change. Her team is driven by empathy and intuition as well as the standard data analysis. Ultimately, she foresees business as a force for good in which people, the planet and the business itself all will thrive.


It’s easy to focus on the current strengths and abilities of your team members, but Shannon has learned through personal experience that not having done something is not a limitation that defines future success or failure. That experience was so powerful that she now believes one responsibility of a good manager is to uncover their employees’ potential to stretch and grow.

Strong managers look for opportunities for their people to learn and evolve. This process begins during hiring and continues throughout the employees tenure with the organization. She advises managers do the following:

  • Spend time in the hiring process discovering what matters most to your future employee.

  • Figure out how to align their personal passions or energy to the growth and direction of the organization.

  • Distribute this valuable knowledge of the new hire throughout your organization’s ecosystem.

  • Provide stretch assignments that align with the individual’s interests rather than habitually offering interesting work to the top performers.

  • Check in with each person at least annually to stay abreast of their professional goals and growth area interests.


Businesses are beginning to recognize that they exist for purposes beyond shareholder returns, and that the degree of their financial success is directly related to the happiness and well-being of their employees.

What are you creating, and why does it matter? It’s not enough to take home a paycheck anymore. If you want your team members to work hard and go the extra mile, to apply their full capabilities to the work, they need to feel inspired and connected. They want to know they're doing something that matters to the world, that the business is taking care of the community and the environment.

How are you promoting employee health and happiness? More work environments must support mothers, working fathers, minorities and people from non-traditional backgrounds. A work environment which nurtures individuality, allows for flexibility to accommodate life outside the office, pays fair living wages and encourages self-actualization will generate greater outcomes than the perceived costs.

Are you emphasizing people? While big data and Artificial Intelligence are among today’s popular buzzwords and may be the answer to many of the challenges we face, the data alone is useless. Shannon emphasizes that the magic comes from the people who interact with the data. True innovation happens when the data sparks valuable insights. The more unique skills, talents and perspectives of the people engaging with the data, the more sparks will fly.


Although empathy, nurturing and the prioritizing of open communication can be seen as feminine qualities, men and women are increasingly opting to incorporate both feminine and masculine leadership styles as they move toward designing optimal environments.

Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen a shift in leadership that is more reflective of those feminine traits. Hierarchical structures are gradually giving way to more flexible, horizontal organizationals. Leadership focuses less on telling and more on listening. Product development is embracing experimentation over perfection. Each of these shifts embraces being human-centered and empathetic.


Just as Shannon believes that organizations must clarify their mission, she’s discovered the power in having a personal mission. Through an exploratory process with Landmark Education, Shannon crafted a life mission statement that guides her actions and decisions. When a leader is clear about who they are, what matters to them and how they want to show up every day, they are better equipped to lead others.

Join the Modern Manager community to get Future State’s 21st Century Leadership eBook which includes a set of common attributes that when combined, make people especially adept at leading teams through this time of change. The eBook provides a self-assessment tool and recommendations to further evolve your skills, and ready your organization for inevitable change. Get the guide when you join The Modern Manager community.

This article was based on episode 066 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.





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