Leadership challenges in hybrid working environment

Leadership challenges in hybrid working environment

When some people are working remotely, it’s more important than ever for leaders to the develop qualities, values and behaviours that help them unite teams and boost performance.

When teams are working remotely – either full-time or part-time – there is a greater need for leaders to evolve the way they motivate people. After months of working from home, the hybrid working model makes it possible for people to come together at certain points during the week – either at a shared flex space in their local area or a city centre HQ – so there are greater opportunities to assert yourself and get the outcomes you want.

Elsewhere, a recent study from IWG and Arup revealed that, in the coming years, smaller towns and cities are set to benefit financially from the expansion of flexible office and coworking spaces. The reinvigoration of these areas is likely to mean that the historic ‘brain drain’ to cities ends and may even be reversed – and in this new world of opportunity, leaders may themselves be based in rural or regional locations some distance from corporate HQs.

Whether you’re dealing with team members face to face or via video call, as a leader, you also need to have impact.

The hybrid model promises to be a key tool for future organisational flexibility and crisis response. One leader commented that a key learning from the crisis was “how quickly organisations can change and how well organisations withstand change — this pandemic has shown that there are no limits.”

“Management teams will continue to be pressed by directors and investors to be resilient; there will certainly be more crises to come. And while the companies we interviewed were all established and of significant size, we observed differences even within this group about their preparedness.

Ultimately, the bigger the company, the more likely it benefitted over the last year from predefined, crisis-proof processes and models that they could activate and adapt”, says Joanne Bushell, MD IWG Plc. South Africa

Here are the key characteristics you need to cultivate to incite positive change in your professional endeavours, and take you from being a manager to a trailblazer…

Energy and enthusiasm

In many areas of business, the ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality will get you where you want to be but, when it comes to passion, it has to be authentic. For entrepreneurs and company founders, having energy and enthusiasm for what you are building and investing your time in will come naturally.

What you need to do is express it – by doing so, you will motivate and inspire those around you to go the extra mile. While video calls are fine for day-to-day meetings, meeting in person at key moments using a shared flexspace, for example, will bring maximum return on investment. In between face-to-face encounters, great hybrid leaders use technology to their advantage: messaging platforms like Slack and Microsoft teams allow for quick yet impactful “well done” messages, while virtual project management systems ensure all members of a team can see progress is being made.

Commitment and persistence

Building a successful business is never easy but being able to identify and communicate your vision to others helps them appreciate what they’re part of. With the right mindset you will be able to direct your focus on ‘intentional growth’, which equates to making the shift from simply ‘doing things’ to ‘making things happen’. For example, sending emails vs organising a team-building weekend. Setting goals, being proactive and taking intelligent risks are all tactics of a high-impact leader.

Compassion and kindness

It might sound counterintuitive to some people, but the ‘soft power’ virtues of kindness and compassion can go a long way in bringing out the best in people you work with – be they clients, stakeholders or colleagues.

Whether or not you are face to face in a coworking space, the company HQ or sending emails to each other across a continent, being sensitive to people’s needs and backstories will help, not hinder, you as a leader. This is because soft power is fundamental to building good relationships and loyalty.

Self-knowledge and fallibility

To become a high-impact leader you need to know your strengths and weaknesses, and continuously invest in yourself. If you don’t have good inner resources and the ability to let yourself recharge throughout the year, you won’t have the capacity to take your business to the next level.

For leaders of SMEs it can be tempting to lean towards cultivating likeability, but respect almost always trumps it in a professional environment. That’s not to say you can’t share some beers after work, though.

Generosity and humanity

While focusing on yourself is important, it’s also essential to invest time in upskilling others, nurturing confidence and empowering team members to make their own high-impact decisions. Giving people the choice to work where and when they want will be an important part of this approach. After identifying your purpose as a leader, you need to be fully engaged with those around you and adopt an ‘abundance mentality’ that always leads to growth.

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