Some thought starters for leaders in the year of the ox

By Laura Quigley


LUNAR New Year marks the start of a new calendar year for people around the world. 

Celebrations usher out the old year, bringing forth luck and prosperity to the new. 2021 is the year of the ox! The ox principally signifies diligence, perseverance, positivity and prosperity. These qualities will become an important reflection for the marketers in the year ahead. 

Here are some thought starters for leaders to keep in mind in the year of the ox:

Keep social distancing not emotional-distancing  

Staying indoors and balancing travel limitations hasn’t been easy and many of us are figuring out ways to stay connected with friends and family through Facetime or other virtual options. A lot of companies including Integral Ad Science (IAS) have been strong advocates for employees’ mental and physical well-being by dedicating resources to various initiatives.

One recent example is our global Fitbit challenge, which we launched last year to help promote a healthy work-life balance. IAS provided all employees with a Fitbit and launched a global team challenge to encourage everyone to get in their steps each day. It sparked a healthy competitive spirit, team bonding, and fun for all involved!

Additionally, IAS offers a global employee assistance program, providing important resources for employees to easily connect with healthcare providers and discuss mental health issues. 

People are absolutely at the core of our business and their safety and well-being are of the utmost importance. We’ve built a strong network of support for employees globally through our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Employee Interest Groups (EIGs) which lead a range of activities.

Our ERGs at IAS include ASIAS (Asian Society IAS), BIND (Black Integral Network Domain), LGBTQ + IDIAS, Women@IAS, and more. We’ve created a culture of on-going feedback to get a pulse on our global and diverse workforce to make sure that we address challenges and opportunities. Our focus is on creating an inclusive and trusted community for all of our employees.

Leading with empathy and mindfulness 

There is a very strong and to my mind a permanent shift in emotional leadership. Empathy is a key leadership attribute and has set the tone for 2021 with a stronger focus. Leadership across will be well-advised to adopt empathetic leadership principles quickly, keep the well-being of the employees at the core. Many times, leaders will find themselves leading teams who’re uncertain, overwhelmed, and unable to do their best work. The onus will be on leaders to relate, connect and listen to inspire and empower their lives.

Right now, employees across industries and geographies are dealing with tremendous fear and frustrations. Those guided by empathetic leaders will likely have an easier time working through their stresses, while others operating under a “business as usual” leader may become disengaged and resentful.

Enabling honest discussions and then pivoting the conversation and actions toward positive solutions will be the key for leaders in 2021 to help their employees stay motivated and thrive professionally and personally.

Maturing of remote working and the new-normal

The year 2020 fast-tracked the world into remote working in the greatest ‘work from home’ experiment we’ve experienced. With our digital-first lifestyles, some industries were able to pivot to efficiently support this new way of working.

The year ahead will continue to be underpinned by digital, mobile and cloud technologies that facilitate remote working. This will allow workers to split time between home and the office, essentially allowing the business to operate from anywhere, while still maintaining the control and transparency they had when workers were in the office full-time.

The world has become even more borderless with the help of technology and it’ll bridge the border between the business and its customers. Our technology and innovation will continue to break boundaries and borders and make this an opportune year.

The Ox is a symbol of strength, focus, and determination. It promises prosperity through hard work and sustained effort. It is also an animal that works in teams and nourishes the community in which it lives. Have an Ox-picious Lunar New Year and I hope we continue to persevere no matter the obstacle, only to arise more prosperous and resilient because of the challenging journey. Huat-Ah! – Feb 14, 2021



Laura Quigley is the managing director for APAC at Integral Ad Science (IAS).

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


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