In the lead up to and certainly including 2020, we have seen numerous challenges for many businesses as they have worked towards a much-needed evolution from Management into the Leadership space. The changes were required as the economy slowed down, businesses struggled and the number of unemployed grew. The bad news is and especially now with the new challenges around Covid-19, there are no signs of a let up just yet!
For many years teams of employees and individuals within the workspace have been managed through command and control, which in today’s world is very much becoming less and less effective in the light of the necessity for new thinking.
Managers now need to be sure they are shifting towards influence and coaching; they need to be motivators and supporters and not controllers. They are required to engage with their staff and teams with a view to encouraging employees to go the extra mile and offer support to their employer during these challenging times. The downside is that with the economy being in such a dire state, with Brexit talks on the brink of collapse and as, has already been mentioned, the challenges with C-19, including mass unemployment, and where that will eventually lead, employees who are lucky enough to remain employed may well not receive any more financial reward, certainly not on their basic pay although there may be room for gratitude in a profit related pay.
The most desirable way forward for leadership is to look at dispersed leadership and rather than have a tiered management structure we aim for a shared ownership. The days of seniority within the workplace is dying and in fact, some would argue that it has been on its knees for some considerable time. There is simply no place for it today or tomorrow. Businesses now must re-invent the wheel, with many going through varying stages of Lean processes. They need to have shared responsibility where all staff are no longer accountable to their superior managers but are more accountable and autonomous to their peers. Driving staff will be based more on trust as opposed to any other management type model previously adopted by many businesses.
With changes in staffing and management structure taking place, home-working has been on the increase for some time and has only been escalated in epic proportions since March of this year when businesses were forced to seek alternative ways of working and collaborating. Homeworking will continue to become more common place in today’s business world. People will be up-skilling and using the transferable skills they have accrued elsewhere, whether that is through community involvement with volunteering, which by default requires a much higher level of coaching and engagement that is currently in the paid workplace. Social engagement is also high on the agenda as businesses look to grow their wider audience by means of a more effective method with lesser costs that do not impact on the reduced working capital available to companies during this pandemic.
Communication skills and the tools to allow this have already changed significantly, with platform suppliers such as Microsoft (Teams) and Zoom etc. having to grow up very rapidly and offer online services en-masse and whilst under high demand from business leaders who needed urgent infrastructure changes so they could at least try and keep the wheels turning whilst the world fell of its axes.
All of this is “coachable”, so one thing that will and indeed must change is the value and power of coaching as a key principle.
Some key thoughts on leadership:
- Leadership is the responsibility of both employees as well as employers – all staff should be coached and encouraged to behave as leaders and any passengers out there either need to take a different seat on the bus or get off altogether
- Shared visions – Leadership has to be about inclusiveness – Business owners and all key stakeholders need to ensure that all staff have a clear understanding and now, more so than ever before must remain firmly on the same page
- Three key elements to effective leadership are Ownership, Responsibility and Accountability. Each of these is a basic requirement to ensure that we create full participation and understanding. Without the key ingredient’s failure is a pre-formed conclusion
- Ensure there is clarity – Make sure that all members understand at all time, what is expected of them and that they equally understand what they can expect from the employer.
- Empathy is paramount – With mental well-being having been hit hard since the start of the first lock-down in March and subsequently again with Lock-down 2.0, business owners especially need to show empathy towards their staff. Too many staff are reporting that they feel lost and alone throughout this dreadful situation. Sadly, many of the business owners too are feeling very much alone. I would urge everyone to seek out support of those around you, maybe even professional help if needed, life is far too short to give up now. After all, we have each come so far!