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It takes A Village: Leadership Today

Women have come a long way in the workplace since the early part of their work history and yet, the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 published by the World Economic Forum has some startling numbers that makes us rethink a whole lot of things.

Shift happens. With the pace of our world today, business moves at hyper speed. While employees are more mobile than ever, the task of leading them still remains. The balance of understanding the needs of your people versus. executing business strategy has never been more challenging. Are you prepared to lead at the speed of today? If you’re a leader, being aware of the new realities is important.

Hybrid workplaces are one such reality. By bringing together employees in two or more ways, such workplace demands more valuable leadership. Today, a leader is no longer just one person. The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”, when interpreted in the context of leadership in hybrid workplaces, rings even more true.

For context, here’s an interesting statistic – A study conducted by Apollo Technical found 83 percent of businesses believe it is critical to develop leaders at all levels. Despite this, less than 5 percent of businesses have implemented leadership development at all levels. How can this be improved? 

Hybrid workplaces are governed by three guiding principles namely collaboration, innovation, and productivity. Let’s focus on collaboration. Collaboration is key for the 21st-century workplace, with its evolving knowledge economy. When inculcated among employees, collaboration can give workers a sense of purpose for coming to work each day. It can stimulate innovation by reducing competition between individual departments as groups work together to solve problems and also circulate new thinking through peer coachings.

Why peer coaching?

It is a learning and development system designed for organizations to promote teamwork and skills development which ultimately leads to individual and organizational growth. When two individuals with different levels of knowledge come together, they learn from one another and in turn help their team or organization grow by being able to see things from a different perspective.

Peer coaching is proven to be the most effective form of learning and development while also being cost-effective, results-driven, and quick. Though it is often referred to as mentoring, it is slightly different. Instead of the individual being mentored, both individuals take turns as a mentor and a learner.

Engage with your employees better.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Economist, 34% of respondents said that interruptions from colleagues were the most common reason they lost focus at work. Sometimes, leaders organize too many meetings in the hopes of engaging with their employees, which frequently backfires and leaves the employees feeling burned out. How can leaders deal with this situation?

There is a fairly new concept called Small Moments of Engagement that helps leaders groom their employees with training, education, and motivation.

What are Small Moments of Engagement? More importantly, how do you define them? Small moments of engagement are friendly, everyday interactions among employees that make them feel good about their work and company. They encourage greater productivity and performance, lower turnover, better morale — all of which benefits the organization. What makes them especially effective is their imperceptibility. They’re so subtle that recipients don’t realize why they feel good – this is because they like to be engaged with in genuine ways that bring the team together. 

Build skills to match the current environment

The future of learning hints at a need to build skills to match the current work environment. Organizations require a unique approach that provides a structure for developing not only IT skills but also soft skills, helping them transition from a process-centric to a team-centric environment.

To do this, educating people on how they fit into the bigger picture is the best way to start. After defining their role, leaders can build skills to match the current work environment. Quick response learning will help leaders bring their skills to match their changing workplace.

Is hybrid workspace just another trend that will fade away?

All said and done, the hybrid work environment could also harm workers’ social lives with fellow employees, making it more difficult to collaborate or seek workplace advice from their managers. Some people might experience difficulties switching seamlessly between the two workplace environments because there would be no clear boundaries distinguishing home time from office time. This type of workplace will need to make sure people clearly understand the benefits and consequences. Managers, in turn, will need to tailor leadership styles and coaching techniques to workers with hybrid needs.

It’s hard to say how long the culture of hybrid workspaces will last. For the moment, the draw of a work-life blend is strong. However, as employees spend more time working outside offices, they may start to miss certain things about working in an office or they may adapt and find new ways to make their hybrid arrangements work.

This raises the question of whether workers will ultimately reject the hybrid work environment. Given how new the model is, research on its advantages and disadvantages has barely begun. But it is apparent that this shift is reducing workers’ quality of life, their time with family, their sleep hygiene, and even their health. Employees also fear that their work will go unnoticed.

All of this leads to the imminent question – will employees eventually move away from this way of working? The answer depends on how the leaders pave the way to success.