Leadership lessons from 2022 to set you up for 2023, with Rebecca Christianson

Podcast transcript:

Hi there, my name’s Dr Paul Brewerton, Founder and Chair of Strengthscope, Doctor of Organisational Psychology and the strengths guy.  I have here with me today, well actually ‘here’ meaning 12,000 miles away but as here as we can get her… Rebecca Christianson… hello Bec.

Rebecca is an Executive coach, management consultant, facilitator and keynote speaker. She is an expert on leadership and innovative HR practices – she worked as an internal HR (in Australia that’s more typically called People and Culture) Executive and senior leader for over 15 years in the UK, Europe & Australia. She then pivoted her career into private practice and now works with Executive teams to help them adapt to our changing world, and build leadership capability and a positive employee experience. She also coaches senior leaders to focus on mind-set shifts to thrive. And on top of all that, she has a psychology background and is people-curious through and through.

I’m excited that today, we’ll have an opportunity to chat to Bec about her reflections on 2022 and what the year has taught leaders and HR (People and Culture) professionals, as well as looking ahead into 2023 with some tips for facing into next year with a clear plan for people priorities.

BTW, if you’re interested in other conversations that Bec and I have had in the past, you can search the strengths guy back catalogue for a two parter conversation on millennials at work: Millennial leaders – the essential guide and also Managing millennials. Some great practical tips in there if you scoot over.

Let’s get started – what have been your reflections on 2022… at headline helicopter level first and then we’ll get into some more detail on that.  What happened and what are the positives we can take?


Now let’s get into the nitty gritty. What have been the leadership and business challenges from your POV in 22?

  1. Managing the impact of COVID restrictions – different countries had different approaches during 2022
  2. Changes within and to Government – mention Australia and UK changes
  3. Increasing inflation globally
  4. Impact of the war in Ukraine globally
  5. Continued supply chain restrictions globally
  6. Scarce and expensive talent globally
  7. This led to – a great deal of organisational change


And what about the HR/People and Culture challenges?

  1. Balance cost savings versus talent investments
  2. Balancing business requirements versus employee needs
  3. Continuing to evolve the role of a leader to build leadership capability
  4. Attracting talent
  5. Retaining change fatigued employees
  6. This led to managing the impact of quiet quitting or quitting
  7. Leader / Executive / employee burnout


Anything specific about the changing leadership landscape – with more Millennial and female leaders than ever?  How do you feel those groups of leaders have responded to the challenges they’ve faced?

  • the distinction between the old and the new leadership paradigms is even more apparent – some leaders are embracing the 2 most important leadership traits in my view = agility and empathy / care.
  • Millennial and female leaders are leading with more authenticity and care which increases the psychological safety and inclusion within teams which increases the diversity of thought and agility of teams
  • Some organisations are really focusing on EX and listening to their people – more businesses are introducing a 4-day working week, permanent hybrid working etc. Others are still wanting to go back to the old days pre-COVID. The difference between the innovative organisations and those who are behind is even more vast now


Do you have any tips for leaders based on your reflections from the year we’ve just experienced?


  1. Apply employee experience approaches to create employee personas and journey maps within your employee/ candidate base, including worker type to better understand their needs, wants & challenges
  2. See advertising jobs like marketing – have a simple EVP across multiple social media channels that differentiates you in the market place
  3. Ensure your flexible and hybrid working approaches are competitive – these ways of working are here to stay
  4. Change the way you source people now – stop relying on strategies from the past
  5. Cut roles differently to bring more women back to the workplace and support men to work part-time
  6. Introduce an employee referral program to ask for recommendations from current employees


  1. Support leaders to better prioritise short and long term goals to enable more manageable workloads for people
  2. Rethink your approach to employee wellbeing and resilience – are you using these as a way to compensate for unrealistic expectations and high workloads?
  3. How are you building a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture? What does it feel like to be in the minority?
  4. Reprioritise learning and leadership capability building – the organisations that are are attracting more people
  5. Support leaders to have ‘stay conversations’ with everyone in their team to truly understand where employees are at so you reduce the need to attract new people.


What do you think will be the key trends for 2023 from a people perspective (for leaders and for HR professionals to be aware of)?

  1. Build a diverse, equitable & inclusive culture = micro-behaviours are more important than the big gestures
  2. Better articulate the meaning behind an organisation’s purpose to have a positive impact on the community at large – especially important for our Gen Z / Y people
  3. Refine & embed flexible / hybrid / remote working for the long term
  4. Better priority setting across organisations – rethink the impact of change on people’s workloads
  5. Rethink the approach to employee resilience & wellbeing
  6. Continue to evolve leadership capability to meet the changing expectations of leaders
  7. Reshape & prioritise workplace learning again


Finally, what are your top 3 takeaways for listeners today from all we’ve discussed?

Recharge, reflect and reset

  1. Recharge – It has been another tough year so encourage your people and yourself to take a break over the new year to rest and recharge
  2. Reflect – Listen to your people and what they are saying they need to be successful – let that guide your future priorities
  3. Reset – Clear priorities for 2023 – not a transfer of 2022 uncompleted work to 2023


Thank you so much, Rebecca, for taking time out of your hectic schedule to spend this time with me and to share your insights on the year that’s been and the year ahead. It’s been super helpful.

One last question, if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way?



Thank you Bec, that’s it for this week. Don’t forget to check out our earlier conversations on millennial leaders and managing millennials. Till next time, stay strong.