Work appears differently in many of our organizations after the pandemic. Many companies are still struggling to define their in-person, remote and hybrid models for employees. Of course, no one size fits all and that can lead to a great deal of confusion and uncertainty for leaders. Even my local Facebook group is constantly discussing concerns about people in our town feeling overwhelmed about returning to their offices several days a week. There is no perfect scenario that will meet everyone’s needs but leaders owe it to themselves to navigate this time of transition in a manageable way.
What exactly is within a leader’s control? The answer is -their own, personal leadership. Each leader has the choice of how they want to lead and that can open up the door to thinking about which leadership skills and strategies will bring them the most fulfilling work situations. To do that, we need to take an honest look at what really matters most with this new fluid state of leadership.
Here are five key shifts to the new fluid state of leadership:
1. Build Flexibility Muscles
Some organizations are requiring leaders to come into the office on particular days, while other companies are letting us choose. Therefore, leaders need to rebuild their ever-changing routines. This hybrid, yet mandated weekly schedule, is wreaking havoc with some leader’s childcare schedules. During the pandemic, leaders became accustomed to being more available to help with taking their children to activities and now that’s gone. Leaders I’ve worked with felt they accomplished more working from home. That has changed and a shift in thinking differently about our days is screaming out to us. Leaders need to stay flexible, open and agile.
2. Listen With Care
More than ever, a critical skill for leaders to master is active listening. With interactions happening in person, on video, through email and text and constantly changing, a leader can lose focus of a project in a nano second. What can leaders do to hone in on their listening strategies?
- When possible, use and read eye contact carefully.
- Ask questions to clarify any uncertainty you are sensing. There is no stupid question.
- Be present and focused on the person you are speaking with and don’t try to multi-task. That will just add to a confusing result.
- Use appropriate body language that aligns with your words. If your body language and hand gestures are not consistent with your message, your words will be lost.
3. Become More Self-Aware
This shift is huge since without being self-aware it is very difficult to be part of the fluid state of leadership. Being self-aware includes an understanding of your own emotions and curiosity about yourself. For example, it is important for leaders to identify what matters most to them and their ability to be successful in their current workplaces. If a leader feels that their gifts are not being utilized in their job or even valued, it may be time to re-evaluate. Additionally, it is imperative to be clear how others see them. Are they an empathetic and approachable leader or do team members avoid them at all cost? Identifying what they want in life as well as the person they long to be is key.
4. Cultivate Stronger Relationships
Who are the most important people in your professional and work life? Do you spend enough time getting to know them? Can they see that you are trustworthy and have their best interests at heart? The relationships in a leader’s world consist of colleagues, bosses, family and friends, worthy of our help and generosity. How do you go about cultivating these relationships?
- Do you ask them to have coffee or lunch just to catch up about their world outside of work?
- Do you make sure to give them credit when they contribute to your projects?
- Are you there to lean on when they go through challenging health issues?
5. Know What Matters
The new fluid state of leadership begs each leader to be authentic and live their life according to their unique set of values. If working for an organization that has a higher level mission matters to you, then choose one that does. If keeping up with a workout schedule impacts your body and mind, then make sure it is part of your schedule. If surrounding yourself with kind souls keeps you sane, then do it. Whatever matters to you, take the time to acknowledge those things and try to add them into some part of your life. You matter.
What other key shifts would you make to the new fluid state of leadership?