Published in July/August 2021
The role of the leader continues to evolve to keep pace with the needs of the business – from perfecting the efficiency of the assembly line during the industrial revolution to ethically leveraging the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict consumer behaviors in the 21st century. As the work environment changes, so must our approach to leadership.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations shifted to remote workforces. Now, as employees begin to migrate back to the office, companies are adapting to a hybrid workplace. With some employees located in the office and others working remotely, this presents challenges for many leaders. Learning and development (L&D) has an opportunity to guide their organizations’ leaders through these transitions to bring stability to the organization as they find their feet in this uncertain economic climate.
Hybrid Leadership Skills
There has been a multitude of changes and disruptions in business over the last 18 months. As employees were sent home, leaders needed to quickly learn how to manage in a remote environment. Just as leaders gained confidence in their remote leadership skills, however, some employees began returning to the office – requiring hybrid leadership skills.
Leaders are facing new challenges as they enter this new world of work – from sustaining the company culture to maintaining clear communication and expectations regardless of location. Leaders must unify a dispersed workforce and align the team around shared goals and objectives.
To support employees in a hybrid work environment, here are few things for leaders to consider:
This new world of work requires new processes and procedures. Teams should discuss how and when they’re going to communicate, who needs to attend meetings, who has access to information and where to turn for guidance. Managers should also discuss with employees how they will structure their day, ensuring both remote and in-office employees have access to the same tools, resources and flexibility to meet goals.
The onset of the pandemic may be in the rearview mirror, but employees are still navigating uncertainty. Flexibility has become a critical skill for leaders and employees as they navigate a new world of work. A flexible mindset will enable leaders to adjust goals as needed. Prioritizing tasks and projects can help the team focus on what matters most if plans need to shift.
Communication has always been a critical leadership skill, but hybrid work requires clear communication for success. Leaders must structure individual and team meetings to ensure participation by all employees, regardless of location. Leaders should ask for feedback from their employees on the format of meetings, challenges of a hybrid team and how the team can improve processes and procedures.
Redefining Company Culture
The pandemic required many leaders to essentially tear up their plans and start from scratch. Business models shifted in response to the changing market – altering processes and procedures, eliminating outdated products and adding new offerings to the business portfolio. We’re at a turning point in business to redefine our company’s culture. This is an opportunity for leaders to tune in to what employees need and create a culture that nurtures and supports talent so that the company can achieve its short- and long-term goals.
The world of work is evolving – and so is leadership. As hybrid work environments continue to gain traction, leaders need to be prepared with new skills and a new mindset. Leaders must work to unify their dispersed team and create a shared vision for success.