Do You Have What is Takes to Lead in Our New Normal?
Allow me to be bold with the following statement.
If you are reluctant to embrace technology and our new way of working, you will get left behind. If you cannot embrace technology as a leader within your organization, your future and overall potential will be limited. In addition to that, I would say you are not leading by example and could be sending unproductive messages to your people and to your respective leadership team.
A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic. This trend is going to increase not decrease, and it is a wonderful thing for productivity and work life balance. Most employees have been requesting this from their employers for years, and it took a pandemic to prove that people can be productive while working remotely. We have some work to do around setting boundaries and creating new habits when working remotely to reap the benefits of being home-based, but the great news is that the desired future world of remote working has arrived.
However, I caution you to be incredibly careful in your executive decision making if you feel that working remotely is not a preferred way of working once we move past COVID-19. You may have a mass exodus on your hands, or certainly run the risk of losing some of your best talent if they prefer to be home-based some or most of the time. I have talked to many people who are eager to go back to the traditional bricks and mortar office for the simple upside of socialization and being around people they like working with and care about. You will have to strike the right balance for your business and your people, as this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The intersection of technology and humans is here, so learn how you can use technological advancements to your advantage.
As a leader in your organization, you can influence and redesign what the future world of work will look like for your company. Start by talking to your people about what that might look like based on their needs, and balance that with what the business needs are to make sound decisions. Tune in to what experts and researchers have to say and make relevant and educated decisions for your people and business.
Deloitte recently published an article titled Returning to Work in the Future of Work that explores how leaders have the opportunity to design the future of work by building on the lessons and practices their organizations leveraged during the crisis. Why start from scratch? It’s a far easier approach to build on the successes you have already gained to date through this experience.
A few key insights that I took away from the article are focused on the skills and mindset that leaders need now and must possess in the future in order to thrive and keep up with our new world of work. We need to be open to new ways of working and embrace what is possible based on what we know and have learned.
They referenced New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s perspective that humans who want to adapt in an age of acceleration must develop “dynamic stability.” Rather than trying to stop an inevitable storm of change, Friedman encourages leaders to “build an eye that moves with the storm, draws energy from it, but creates a platform of dynamic stability within it.” I love this concept of dynamic stability. A few of the core skills enabling this type of thinking and approach include strategic or innovative thinking, resilience, agility and being open to change.
As you are planning, ensure that your people are at the core of your strategy. Everything you do, whether internal and external must take your people into account – what will these changes mean for your people? The pandemic has forced topics like well-being, mental health, and safety to the table like never before, making them a top priority for all executives, in particular HR leaders. Companies that can embrace this and create cultures and environments that place the priority on people first, will not only be high performing, they will attract high-end talent who want to work for their company. As I have said many times, take care of your people and they will take care of your business.
Conversations around what leadership means and what leadership development’s focus needs to be are also evolving. Hear me out on this as it is near and dear to my heart. Investing in people who are leading people in the traditional sense, managers, and leaders, as we call them, will still be a priority. However, the areas of focus on skill development and competencies will shift and change.
Do not get me wrong. As I referenced earlier – strategic thinking, resilience, agility and the ability to lead change plus many additional skills and competencies have always been staples in a leaders toolkit, but the speed and pace at which we are expected to leverage these combination of skills, has changed.
Our new normal is demanding an expanded skill set for our existing and future leaders and it is putting resilience and agility at the forefront of those conversations. EQ, self-awareness, mindfulness, and all the required soft skills are still important but the pace and speed at which we need to pivot, generate new innovative ideas, and react to opportunity and crises has changed. These critical skills need to become part of our core leadership DNA, not ones that we only call upon as necessary.
As a result, our overall mindset needs to shift. We cannot get too comfortable with how things are because the world is showing us that things can change almost instantly.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable; be a constant tinkerer and ask questions that force people to think outside of their comfort zone. Lastly, develop an always learning mindset and never settle for “this is the way we have always done things” mentality. That is not going to be good enough in our current state or in the future world of work.
More Tips and Advice on Our Existing and Future World of Work and Leadership
What are your thoughts on our new and future world of work? Do you see a shift in what is required for leaders to thrive in our new normal? What other trends or insights do you have to share? This is critical to your success so chime in. I would love to chat with you in more detail. Call me at 1.855.871.3374 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org