• leadership

Leadership can make, and leadership can break

I wonder what percentage of leaders really understand the impact they have on the people that they lead. I wonder how many people either live in anguish or thrive in anticipation for their next day of work. I wonder how many leaders have grown their employees to new highs or have driven fragile people to new lows.

When I taught my son to drive a car, I explained to him “Son, you now carry with you a tremendous responsibility, you have other people’s lives in your hands”. To all the leaders out there, I want to say the same, be conscious of your role. The impact you leave is lasting, make sure it is a positive one. I often also have to remind myself of this great responsibility.

I have had the opportunity to be led by some competent and caring leaders, and I have learnt a great deal from them. So, I am left thinking about the changing nature of work and what it means for leadership. The old models of leadership are just not suitable anymore. The workforce of the future will demand a different kind of leader.

I expect leaders of the future will need a different set of competencies and capabilities to have a real and lasting impact that will get not only their employees but also their business to thrive and grow.

The extract below provides a view of the leadership competencies, which will be crucial to lead successfully into the future.

The first competency will be an ability to lead remote teams, and flex workers, including non-permanent staff and freelancers, with comfort and ease. This will require a significant investment in trust. Many leaders in the past have only been able to manage what they could see. The new world of work dictates otherwise. One of my partners always says, “When I start working with someone, my trust bank with them starts at 100%”, I love this attitude. I want to challenge the old saying that trust must be earned, giving confidence and trust from the start is a far better starting point.

This leads me naturally to the second competency, the ability to manage and lead based on output as opposed to input and effort. To lead based on the expected outcome of delivery means we need to trust that employees will spend their time on the activities to drive the outcome. We need to let go of our inherent desire to control; I know this is tough. Does this mean we are soft on performance, not at all? Leading on an outcome means the accountability to deliver real results resides with the employee. Leaders become a facilitator of success and achievement.

This is something we are very passionate about in our own firm. We recently employed an employee who is based in a different country. We communicated to her that she has no leave and no working hours, we trust she will deliver what is expected of her and manage her time and time off accordingly.

Competency three has to do with the ability to engage employees deeply by building engaging employee experiences right through the employee life cycle. The best way to do this is to ensure that employees have a positive experience through “the moments that matter”. This will include events such as onboarding, performance management, talent and development conversations and promotions or career transition. In theory, this is easy, reduce the clutter and complexity and celebrate the moment with employees. It is essential to practice co-creation. As “consumers’ of these processes, employees are well placed to point out the moments that mattered that left them demotivated.

This also means that we have to truly practice a participate leadership style and lead with passion and conviction.

The fourth competency requires future leaders to be tech-savvy and make sound decisions using data and analytics. It is the way of the world. If leaders are to connect with their employees, it requires them to engage them in a way that is natural for employees. There is no denying, future generations will most likely prefer virtual and online engagement, so we need to be ready to embrace it.

The final competency encapsulates a mindset of doing things differently and veering from the norm. The ability to embrace the unconventional and to continually innovate is what will distinguish good leaders from great leaders. This often will require challenging long-time Organisational norms and practices. Be brave and persevere.

I believe it is incumbent upon each leader to reflect on their style and to ask questions of themselves. Does my leadership style fit with the new world of work and the new emerging employee? Do I really understand the impact I have on others and am I open to the feedback? Do I acknowledge that change might be needed and am I willing to be open to new ways of leading?

We are in the midst of one of the most impactful crises the world has faced in decades. True leaders are standing up to be counted, are you?