How do we chart a path forward for the future of work during a time of unprecedented change?
The second day of TEDWomen Presents — an online festival featuring interviews with leading women, interactive workshops, specially curated film screenings and more — focused on leading change in the workplace, with a conversation between Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo, and Stephanie Mehta, CEO and chief content officer of Mansueto Ventures.
Big idea: Agile leaders meet uncertainty with flexibility.
How? As a leader, your workforce looks to you for certainty, says Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud. But amid a global pandemic, a racial reckoning and the start of a war, Sud couldn’t provide her 1300-plus employees with the assurance they sought — there were just too many factors outside her control. Her solution: to stay agile and change as circumstances change.
In conversation with Mansueto CEO (and former editor-in-chief of Fast Company) Stephanie Mehta, Sud shares what agile leadership looks like at Vimeo and why offering your employees flexibility makes for a happier, more productive workforce. Early in the pandemic, when everyone in the company felt so isolated, Sud enhanced face-to-face communication at Vimeo by promoting a video-first model. Instead of email and chat, company leaders used live video to communicate with their employees whenever possible. Sud also created a framework for people to discuss what’s not working in meetings so they could pivot when necessary. As for her changing workforce, Sud recognizes that newer generations of workers, specifically millennials and Gen-Z, have different preferences and priorities than previous generations. They’re more mission-driven and want to understand the “why” behind their jobs, not just the “what.” No matter the circumstances, Sud emphasizes that CEOs should respond to challenges with empathy and humanity: “I think the best leaders and cultures deliver results and treat people well.”
Q&A: Following the interview, the TEDWomen Presents audience had the opportunity to ask Sud questions during a live Q&A, hosted by TED Current Affairs Curator Whitney Pennington-Rodgers. This wide-ranging discussion covered the importance of honest, transparent communication in moments of turbulence and change; how companies can take a stance on social change issues; the future of video; how to create deep connections with virtual teams; the extra pressure women leaders face and much more.
Sud outlined how recent layoffs at Vimeo challenged her to rethink how leaders can be accountable to the people affected. “Careers are long, but relationships are longer,” she says. Sud also discussed how Vimeo — an open, user-generated content platform — has a responsibility to make sure that the content on their platform doesn’t create harm in the real world. She emphasized the need for companies like hers to recognize that the world is changing, and how the old rules of engagement may no longer apply. And she also shared some lessons for future generations: get used to the idea that your career path will be winding, not linear, and don’t shy away from hard decisions. “Leadership looks like whatever we want it to look like. So be yourself,” she says.
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