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How Leaders Can Inspire in the Workplace of the Future

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks

Cheryl Cran shares how leaders can adapt to the workplace of the future.

Cheryl Cran shares how leaders can adapt to the workplace of the future.

The business.com community is a place where business owners and professionals come together to learn from each other. Those looking for advice can solicit it from their peers, while others share their extensive expertise with those who need it.

It's that peer-to-peer give-and-take that makes the community such a valuable part of business.com. The site has more than 190,000 members worldwide. The community thrives because of members' eagerness to drive conversations, whether through asking questions, answering questions or contributing articles.

Each month we spotlight a community member for their contributions. This month, we are recognizing Cheryl Cran, the founder of NextMapping.com and author of seven books, including NextMapping: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Create the Future of Work

Managing remote workers

Cran has been a frequent contributor to the business.com community. She regularly answers questions from small business owners seeking advice and writes articles as a way to share her expertise with others.

Cheryl Cran

One question Cran recently weighed in on was from a community member asking what the key was to managing remote employees. Cran said it is all about communication.

"Leverage video for communication using platforms like Skype and Zoom to be able to connect face to face on a regular basis," Cran wrote. "Include remote workers in team events by bringing them in virtually."

She also said it is important to inspire remote workers to stay engaged.

"Incentivize them to perform at peak levels ‒  i.e., they can have a Friday off once they achieve X," Cran said. "Coach consistently and check in weekly to ensure connections."

Cran also shared her thoughts on another question about how best to motivate employees.

"Constant communication, weekly coaching, rewarding results, real-time performance feedback, caring and inspiring communication," Cran wrote.

Cran's most recent article was on how to improve employee loyalty. Cran said that the definition of loyalty, as it relates to loyalty in the workplace, is quickly shifting.

"It's not that workers are less loyal today – there are more choices for workers, more technological solutions, and more workers want to work on their terms," Cran wrote.

To solve loyalty challenges employers are grappling with, Cran said it is critical leaders ensure that when workers are hired that management communicates a clear pathway that shows the future for the worker.

"Leaders should partner with HR and senior leadership to clarify who does what and what types of workers are needed," Cran wrote.

Leaders should also re-evaluate their leadership approaches to determine what makes employees happy and more engaged at work.

"Companies need to build in remote work, flex work and shared jobs to align changing worker needs and to increase loyalty," she wrote. "Finally, leadership attitudes must adapt to the reality that worker loyalty is not what it used to be. Employees have more options than ever before. They want open and trustworthy leaders who share power, share resources and help workers succeed."


  • Name: Cheryl Cran
  • Business: NextMapping (parent company Synthesis at Work Inc.) 
  • How long in Business: 20+ years
  • Location: Vancouver BC 
  • Community member: 6 months
  • Expert areas: Future of work consulting, leadership coaching, keynote Speaker 

Q. What attracted you to the leadership development industry?

A. I was a leader early in my career at the age of 23 and was highly successful quickly. I had great bosses who were great coaches and leaders, and it inspired me to seek out what it meant to be a great leader.

I started the consulting firm in 1997 after a highly successful career as a leader in finance and insurance. I feel that leadership is the key to solving problems, to inspiring people and to making the world great through business. 

Q. What is the future of work, and why is it important for businesses to be prepared for it?

A. The future of work is now ‒ it is the trends, the shifts and the impacts of both people's values, as well as technology innovation. Businesses need to be flexible and adaptable to a fast-changing reality of how people want to work and what customers want. Further, businesses must be able to anticipate change as well as lead change toward creating an optimal future. 

Q. What are the biggest changes leaders and teams need to make to ensure they are prepared for the workplace of the future?

A. Mindset, willingness to collaborate beyond current methods, leveraging technology to better collaborate and the ability to be "change leaders" with a people-first focus. 

Q. How should the future of work, which includes robotics, AI, automation, etc., impact the way entrepreneurs think when starting a business?

A. Entrepreneurs need to be thinking with a futurist focus ‒ what are the trends of people's values, how people are living their lives, how people want to work and live?

Entrepreneurs also need to be focused on how to leverage technology tools to do more with greater efficiency so that they can work on high-value projects for their clients.

Entrepreneurs need to partner with their outsourced suppliers and internal teams and be able to lead people that work remotely and keep them engaged and inspired. 

Q. Why did you join the business.com community?

A. It offers relevant information to running a business and is a great resource for all aspects related to being a successful entrepreneur 

Q. What do you enjoy most about being a part of the business.com community?

A. The information, the success examples and the resources 

Q. How do you decide what to write about when contributing an article? 

A. I write about issues and challenges facing businesses and then look to provide insights and solutions that move things forward for business owners. 

Q. What makes you want to answer other community members' questions? 

A. If I can help or if I have experience or a success tool, I will share it 

Q. What is the best professional advice you have received?

A. Leverage the business beyond the "founder's" mentality. The business is only as successful as the ways you can scale to reach and help more people 

Q. What is the biggest professional mistake you have made, and how did you overcome it?

A. Trying to do too many things on my own and resistance to delegate. I overcame it with a coach who helped me see that I could get more done and I could, at the same time, grow my people, which gave me incentive to get better at sharing the workload and developing my team to deliver the quality of work I wanted. 

Join the business.com community

At business.com, we understand the stress of running a business. You are so bombarded with advice on the importance of marketing, improving your website or training employees that you can barely focus on day-to-day operations.

Our community was created to cut through the clutter of information and be a place for business professionals to connect and share advice to overcome business challenges. To join our community (which is free), click here.

As a business.com community member, you'll have access to:

  • Advice. Ask the community anything related to business, or browse our library of advice with more than 6,000 questions and 60,000 answers.
  • Reviews. Get recommendations on the best products and services to accelerate your business growth with our detailed reviews.
  • Articles. Learn more about how to run your business well with our extensive collection of features written by our qualified team of writers and experts in the community.
  • Experts. Connect with experienced business professionals available for hire to build your network, get inspired or learn from their experiences.

If you are already a community member and want to be considered for our Member of the Month feature, send an email to editor@business.com. We'd love to share your business story.

Image Credit: Cressida studio/Shutterstock
Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks
business.com Staff
See Chad Brooks's Profile
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has spent more than 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014.