Leadership growth in the new world of work
Companies today face a business ecosystem that is rife with disruptions, a workforce that demands flexibility and better benefits, and technology that has been a constant source of disruptions.
To make sure companies remain competitive and can scale newer heights in such conditions is to have leaders with the right skills to embrace uncertainty, factor in technological advancements, and create newer models of success. In more recent times, recession across the globe has led to companies reevaluating their talent policies. As a result, the new world of work presents a new set of challenges for leaders and demands better, more relevant people skills to lead the change.
Flexibility: increasingly contentious trend
Many leaders have begun embracing the advent of hybrid and remote work, while others want to shift back to previous work models. RTO, or return to the office, has become common among employees across the board who are being asked to return to offices. In a famous move, Elon Musk recently announced the end of Twitter's much-touted work-from-anywhere policy.
With the threats of recession compounding the uncertainties that businesses face, it is up to the leaders to steady the ship and create more robust relations with their talent to avoid disruptions to their performance and productivity.
This, however, is easier said than done.
Leaders today have to tread the fine line between accountability and flexibility. For Hariraj Vijayakumar, Founder & CEO of NWORX, the solution is to create suitable structures that help make employees more responsible. "With the flexibility comes responsibility," notes Hariraj, adding that "as organisations provide the flexibility, they expect commitment, higher engagement and minimal deviations from established ways of working." To do this, he suggests companies look closely at continued or increased collaboration, driving innovation, and delivering results. Additionally, setting clear expectations on productivity, results, and expected behaviours helps make flexibility a viable option for companies.
For Hariraj, these need to be supported by "establishing rituals that ensure a continuous flow of information & encourage high-performance behaviours needed to drive results." For Sudip Ghoshdastidar, HR Business Partner, INT, "leaders should embrace the rise of flexible work as long as there are no lapses in productivity. Additionally, he notes that "a priority today should be employee well being, job advancement and trust to make flexible work successful."
Building the right skills
Leaders today are faced with different sets of challenges when compared to the pre-covid era. The rules of productive behaviour have significantly changed, and today employees are looking for more holistic care, a greater sense of purpose, and better growth opportunities. To ensure companies can retain their top talent without sacrificing the productivity and growth goals of the company, leaders need to equip themselves with critical leadership skills.
The following proves crucial to managing the workforce today
- Foster a collaborative environment
- Spending time connecting your team to the rest of the organisation and an overarching sense of purpose.
- Providing robust developmental goals
- Creating the right avenues for recognition.
Sudip notes that "leadership today. is about choice rather than rank. Being vulnerable, flexible, empathise and able to provide an environment to thrive are crucial." Leaders who can build the requisite skills to handle the increasingly ambiguous nature of businesses will be better equipped to lead their workforce to success. He also highlighted the following skills required today for leaders
- Honesty without ambiguity
- Fact-based communication
- Ability to manage a hybrid workforce
Leaders often rise through an organisation's ranks due to their technical expertise, not management skills. Building these skills should involve "design elements," said Hariraj adding, "creating opportunities to apply the skills immediately and receiving critical feedback on the application. These can be a powerful experience for leaders and managers to achieve their goals at a much more elevated level." A learning program designed to help leaders master the soft skills required for effective leadership is essential to helping leaders feel excited about improving and embracing