How Present Circumstances Are Shaping the Future of Leadership - Are You On Board?
Updated: Jul 23
The future of leadership & training is here. It's distributed,remote... and empowering.
The changes are being pushed by an unexpected catalyst and the resulting practices have been unceremoniously dumped at our corporate doorsteps with little warning.
While some leaders with foresight have already experimented with new methods of communicating and inspiring their people, not enough has been done to prepare us all for the sudden changes to our work habits. Make sure your not committing one of these common leadership mistakes mentioned by our partner Kununu Engage.
The workplace, for starters, is no longer a space between bricks and glass. It exists somewhere in the ether with screens acting as portals.
How does that change leadership training and methods?
For most office jobs, 'all teams remote' leads to new challenges that charismatic leaders will have to overcome. For instance, addressing your company through a screen instead of relying on the crowd atmosphere signals of a public speech in person. More on remote teams here.
On the other hand, there are those tech-savvy leaders who will cruise on practices that accommodate remote collaboration but may struggle with the soft skills required to carry a team of people through a difficult transition period.
First, let's talk about leadership attitude(s) that are helpful under current circumstances:
1. Maintain A Positive Outlook
I'm not suggesting that we paint an unrealistic picture. Instead, I allude to a client, a young female entrepreneur who believes that "your focus always follows your attention."
Check your internal language if you want to know where your focus is at the moment. If your leadership style is all doom and gloom, be aware that you are transferring your negative energies to your teams. I understand it's hard to stay cool when EVERYTHING you worked so hard for over the past few years is suddenly threatened with disappearing.
However, nobody wants to follow a pessimist.
2. Keep Your Eyes On The Long-Term Vision
Yes, there will be implications in the short-run but you have to remind your teams of what lies ahead in the distant future. The vision will keep you moving towards your destination.
A recent post by a FinTech consultant highlights how policy makers need to pay attention to the long-term consequences of their short-term fixes. The warning is that one might end up “protecting what you see, but destroying life inadvertantly on the other side.”
Let's put this text into context for talking about leadership: there's a generation (Gen Z) entering the workforce now with a new set of expectations. They can neither relate to traditional ideas of leadership nor are inspired by the processes often initiated by people who could easily be their grandparents. Not sure how Generation Z operates?Here's an insightful article from the New York Times on how to relate to them at the workplace.You might get through these turbulent times by buckling down and going into survival mode only to lose later in the long game. The question that leaders need to answer now is whether they are building a company that thrives in the long-term or one that survives the current storm?The ability to set a clear vision is an essential attribute of leadership. The clarity in your vision will help you steer your organisation and team through choppy waters.
If you haven't already discovered your organisation's authentic purpose, you will be forced to do it now. What's your reason for existing despite the cost?
A goal-setting system like OKRs will help you clarify this vision across the different levels of your organization. When your employees are convinced in your purpose, it will ignite their loyalty and enthusiasm for your mission.
3. Responsive, not Reactive Leadership
There is nothing like a crisis to force a shift. And there is a seismic shift happening as the ground beneath our corporate feet is beginning to crumble. It's necessary not to panic and shift into 'survival mode' instinct.
There has to be some sort of a buffer between what you are observing in the world around you and what you do with that information.Respond to situations, don't react.
In leadership it is important to use open communication to share the current reality with your teams. How healthy is your organization (financially?) Are cuts necessary and if so, how can you ensure that the most number of employees are protected?
Recently, at Scandic, as a corporate decision, everyone in the company agreed to a percentage of pay-cut. The CEO of HomeDay, through honest communication shared the current reality of the company and then reassured his teams with a vision for the future.
Be transparent with your teams.
Tell your team that what’s coming is going to shake things up. You might have to pay them less than what you normally do. Communicate it in honesty.
Fear shuts down communication. Take every opportunity to communicate with your teams.
4. Leadership Training Requires A Growth Mindset
Finally, keep on moving despite the impending dangers that could impede your progress.
If you are in a desperate survival-instinct-mode, look at all the options available to you before making pre-emptive decisions to let people go and cutting down your company's scope. Adopting a growth mindset requires enabling others. Look at the resources you have at the moment (people, ideas, projects on the shelf)... what do you need to mobilise now? If you are constantly firefighting, your energy will be drained in addressing all the things that could go wrong.Focus instead on the possibilities.
The leadership of companies should shift their focus to future possibilities. Consider exploring new opportunities with your team. What about using this time to explore their career pathways and suggesting additional training in new or existing skills?
Don't wait to find out what the future will look like.Be active in creating it.
In the coming months, we all will have to leave everything behind, systems and processes that are familiar. There is a new normal that will emerge when the dust settles. Use this opportunity to re-establish your processes and prepare your organization to usher in the next generation.
And this could in many ways represent a better way to lead for the future.Honestly, you don't have to get this whole digital leadership 100% right. No one gets it perfectly right. However, if we can help in any way to motivate you to tackle this challenge... we would love to hear from you. Finally, let's talk about some practical ways to get through this rough times. Below is a starting list of tools and resources (no affiliation) to help you get geared up for digital leadership training.
We will continue to edit and expand this list as new ideas pour in through our social media networks:
Tools we use Daily:
Tools we Occasionally use for Collaboration:
For a more comprehensive list,please refer to this article that lists 65 free tools to help you through this current season.
Stay safe. Keep calm and wash your hands... the future of transnational leadership depends on you.