Leadership in the new hybrid working environment
Many businesses now embrace a hybrid model that mixes remote working with in-person, office-based work. And this new hybrid way of working clearly creates a new challenge to leadership.
During lockdown, leaders relied on one set of skills to engage their teams equally and prioritised virtual communication as well as the use of many online collaboration tools. However, when some employees are in attendance at the office whilst others are working remotely it can create a new set of management challenges.
There’s been quite a lot of press coverage about the lack of visibility of ‘remote’ employees. And indeed, this lack of visibility can make it difficult to determine which employees might be struggling, who is thriving, and who is ready for a new assignment. In light of this we have highlighted our key traits we believe leaders need to now embrace.
What traits should leaders embrace in the new hybrid working environment?
1. Candour (or Transparency)
Candour is often defined as honesty but it must be without ambiguity. Whilst honesty has always been an important leadership trait, at this time it requires another level and degree, which is where candour comes in. In the post Covid-19 workplace where a climate of anxiety and cynicism can exist, the best antidote is candour. People respond so much better to the known (certainty), even when it contains bad news, rather than the unknown which can lead to even more anxiety.
For leaders who are not naturally empathetic, they need to surround themselves with others who can help fill that gap, especially as insensitive responses or decisions can have adverse (even tragic) consequences.
3. Managing hybrid teams
One of the positive consequences of remote working is that for many organisations they have been able to become more flexible and, at the same time, reduce costs and create efficiencies by having a virtual working infrastructure. This includes many employees now being accustomed to reducing their commute expenditure and spending additional quality time with family. Managing a hybrid working practice requires a shift in mindset, and even in the approach to day-to-day operations. It still remains extremely important that leaders bring their virtual teams together regularly in order to ensure that workstreams remain focused and relevant.
4. Flexibility and adaptability
Leaders need to continue with their flexible and adaptable approach that would have been evident during the early days of the pandemic. Those leaders who go back to their ‘old ways’ or delay changing their approach may experience adverse consequences for their respective businesses, which may include the health and wellbeing of their teams.
Leaders unfortunately are often expected to know it all and make perfect decisions in every case. However, the truth is they are just as human and as fallible as anyone else and leaders need to ensure that they do not fall victim to making the mistake of pretending to know more than they do or making decisions that rely only on instinct. Humility is a huge asset in such circumstances as it takes a strong leader to respond to a difficult question with “I don’t know but I will find out” or “I know someone who does”.
As an experienced CEO and a non-executive director and strategic business and financial adviser for SMEs, I provide professional and visionary expertise to support and inspire my clients to reach their business goals and effectively manage any challenges they encounter on the way. If you would like to discuss how your business could benefit from my NED and/or financial advisory service please get in touch at email@example.com.