Are we Hybrid Leaders?
There is no doubt that leadership is challenging, and the onset of the pandemic created further challenges with a massive shift to home-based remote work. No one anticipated such a swift move, and we can now say that many leaders were unprepared to manage employees.
Now more than two years later, remote work is here to stay, with many organizations embracing a hybrid approach, which combines the flexibility of working from home with the social connection and collaboration of the office environment.
As leaders, we must adopt a transformational leadership style as it has shown to be a far superior option in a world where knowledge worker autonomy is at an all-time high. Hybrid leadership success will not come about by chance; leaders must be intentional if they want their teams to be effective.
Here are ways that leaders can adapt their management style to be successful in the hybrid work environment for the road ahead.
Trust your employees: More than any other approach, trust is not just an absolute must; it is critical. Your employees must feel secure and inclusive for the collective team goals. As a leader, you will never see your employees working on projects, only the finished work, so it can be tempting to assume the worst in certain situations with specific team members. We need to operate with trust as leaders, not assumptions, in the hybrid work setting. We need to role model the virtues they wish to see in their teams-trust.
We must get to know each team member: In a hybrid work environment, it becomes challenging as opportunities are limited to understanding what’s happening in employees’ lives compared to office-based work. You can no longer get a good sense of how employees feel as it is less visible in the hybrid setting. Knowing if someone is feeling sad, stressed, or overworked is less visible, particularly when employees do not turn on their cameras on a zoom call, for example. As leaders, we must make a concerted effort to be proactive in understanding how our employees work and live. We need to create an environment where individuals can share their challenges. This comes back to trust, so employees feel comfortable being open about their challenges.
We need to provide the appropriate support: To connect your employee’s productivity with leadership support, leaders must go out of their way to provide their members with the support they need. We may engage in daily catchups via video calls with individual members and be available daily via chat. You can foster social cohesion with a group chat for your team where they can post on various issues, including fun stories which will create engagement with the team members on a personal level. The important thing is that employees feel that support is easily accessible and that opinions and ideas flow more freely within the team.
Hybrid leadership has challenges, from struggling with cohesiveness, collaboration, and comradery to opportunities for impromptu conversations with employees. In this new working world, organizations must provide their leaders with the support and training they need to become hybrid leaders for the road ahead.