By Paula Brown: Chia Life Business Coaching
“You can manage resources like time, resources and money: but you lead people. Effective managers realise this”, according to international Leadership Consultant, Luigi Panaino.
The almost overnight – and wholly unexpected – thrusting of our workforces into working from home and in isolation from their teams, has seriously damaged the leaders and the businesses who perhaps showed bottom line progress, but neglected and lack modern leadership fundamentals.
Three things are necessary for successful modern leadership, says Panaino, and all of them hinge around empathy, which enables the leader to make things happen, through people, without being physically present. Firstly, it’s about clear objective setting – whether it’s a task for the day or a month; then getting buy-in from the people you lead through communicating in a way they understand and thirdly, to generate action from this combination.
Employee engagement isn’t about strange and superficial HR initiatives that smack of desperation. Engagement rises above distance – if you have the fundamentals right, remote working won’t matter.
Let’s examine your best practice priority list.
Your teams will be feeling the emotional impact of being separated from their ‘tribe’ and their leaders. This is where good communication comes in. It needs to be consistent and it needs to be frequent. Structure, within the freedom of working from home, brings familiarity and predictability, which brings comfort.
Your communications need to be understandable and presented in a way that will make your team want to read or listen to them. Skip the top-down lectures. Play with media: a static newsletter isn’t going to keep the attention of a millennial workforce who are constantly engaging, in creative ways, on dynamic social media and the world of online gaming.
Set clear and measurable objectives; structured tasks and facilitate measurements. This assures your team that growth is still possible and their input is being recognised.
Break the isolation with gestures of empathy. Do you usually pop into offices for casual chats? Make an unexpected Zoom call to check in, with no agenda. Or ask about the cat that walked across the screen during the last one. Make counselling or coaching services available to anyone going through the stress of loved ones facing health challenges.
Today it’s all about situational leadership. For this you need a sharp awareness of where you are in relation to your vision and your team. This will help you decide on the type of leadership that is needed from you in the short, medium and long term. And they may differ vastly from one to the other.
Strong leadership means you can’t avoid taking a long, hard and critical look at your leadership style. It’s not easy: your inbuilt prejudices and judgements and the very habits that are impeding your progress, will naturally come into play – right when you don’t need them.
Partner with a Life/Business coach. They might not know more than you about your business, but they do have the skills to guide you through self-reflection and creating tangible solutions and measurable steps to manage the very unusual demands of leadership in our newly-transformed workspaces.
*Paula Brown, of Chia Life is an Executive and Business coach, who uses transformational coaching techniques as she partners with leaders who value internal growth.