Kindness, courage, and a good sense of humour: watchwords for 2021

Wednesday 20 January 2021
What Emma and other CMI members and managers are planning to do differently in the year ahead

Emma Thorpe CMgr is a water and soil chemist by training. Analysis and problem-solving are her core strengths, and these were certainly put to the test in 2020 when she had to halt a lot of plans for her team of laboratory technicians in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I have learnt so much about myself and my team in 2020, about how important community is. Communication has also been so important this year. And how not to get settled into a routine; everything seemed to have kept changing this year.” She herself managed to continue to develop in 2020 and even enrolled on an online MSc online.

Looking ahead, she now needs to “get the team back to thinking about a vision and pushing forward with it, even if it isn't going to be as easy to change things as it once was.” And her piece of advice for others this year: expect the unexpected.

At the end of 2020 we asked the CMI community to share lessons they’d learned from the past year – how have you changed? What did a tough year teach you about yourself? And what do you plan to do differently in 2021?

Here are just some of your lessons...

The value of kindness and a sense of humour

Jane Claire, a programme manager in the higher education field, says that 2020 taught her that: “the human spirit can adapt to just about everything and make a success of it. The important things are kindness to self and others, courage to take on new things and a good sense of humour.” Love it, Jane!

In 2021, her resolution is to carve out more time for check-ins and one-to-ones. “[I want to] take the time to check in with everyone. This is especially important when you are not face-to-face. A five-minute investment in asking and listening will pay huge dividends,” she says. “I am going to plan in time in my busy calendar to do those personal check-ins with students, clients and colleagues as well as my family and friends.”

Communication and kindness

Dalton Leong CMgr CCMI is chief executive of The Children’s Trust and was a finalist in CMI’s 2020 Chartered Manager of the Year award. He is taking a positive attitude with him into 2021. His main lesson of the past year is: “How brilliantly agile, adaptable and innovative our staff have been. Also, I'm delighted how the equity, diversity and inclusion agenda is being so positively taken up by many organisations across the world, albeit prompted by shocking events in the US in May.

“[I’ll] remain resilient, communicate strongly (internally and externally) and be kind to everyone, understanding the significant mental health issues that this global pandemic has caused.”

You can change if you need to

Simon Blake CMgr CCMI, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, is also keeping a focus on the mental health impact of the pandemic by having a clear resolution: “Make every conversation matter”.

He says 2020 taught him many things, the most memorable of which is: “We can pivot, adapt and change far quicker than we tend to imagine we can.” In 2021 he wants to push this to the limit: “If 2020 has taught us anything it is that some of those things we thought weren't possible are. What else should be reaching for? I want to try and spend more time being provocative and imagining the art of the possible.”


You can read the first round-up of CMI members’ resolutions in our article, Share sparkling moments: CMI members share lessons of 2020.

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