Leadership Has Changed Forever — Embrace It

Exactly two years ago — May 2020 — was the peak of lockdowns worldwide. While the cause of these lockdowns, COVID, isn’t over by any means, these strict measures likely won’t happen again in the western world (parts of Asia, however, are currently experiencing a return).

But that May was the beginning of a major shift in how we work, learn, play, and relate. We turned on our computers, connected to Zoom, and a new world emerged. We became a digitized workforce and experienced relationships through bits and bytes — sometimes with the camera on, sometimes with the camera off.

Working remotely suddenly became required by our employers, finally meeting professionals’ decades-long pleas: Trust us to do our work successfully from home, please. Being remote was the only way to get work done, send kids to school, and to maintain connections. We mastered all three while working through the kinks of childcare, domestic duties, and a more sedentary lifestyle.

Now, as we patiently watch the pandemic gradually turn endemic (fingers crossed), some companies are pressing for a full return to office, while others are adopting a hybrid way of working, or continuing along with being fully remote. Regardless of which proposition your company has adopted, working from home for two years has inspired us to reinvent our relationships with teams and partners, and that is everlasting.

Leadership has Permanently Changed

Photo by Todd Kent

Companies went through a “Special Situation Management” for two years. The moment we started to move toward business as usual, the Ukraine invasion happened. This created a secondary crisis, one that again impacted supply chain, manufacturing, employees, and customers, but we were prepared for it because we already had the infrastructure prepped.

However long this war will last is unpredictable, as is the probability of other countries, or perhaps all of Europe, being pulled in. But due to the Ukrainian crisis, leaders and teammates are learning yet another way to manage and collaborate remotely, with an additional layer of compassion, empathy, and flexibility. One crisis after another has left an imprint on companies that cannot be denied — remote work keeps business going, and it better meets the needs of most employees. Remote work keeps us ready for any crisis to come. Leaders will need to learn how to accommodate their perma-remotes, their hybrid remotes and their in-person teams for the long-term.

We’ve learned how to make it work

Despite everything in our world being turned upside down, the system has not collapsed. People have stepped up and shown up, and have been very creative to find solutions and do things that would have taken much longer to put into place before.

Teams have been adept, agile, and resilient in more ways than we knew was possible. We’ve made remote working work. Employers need to accept this, recognize, and celebrate it and encourage more.

Leaders especially need to learn ways to become equally inclusive to their staff no matter what their physical presence is — to ensure that all teammates are heard, included, and engaged. Also, leaders should help their teams vocalize time boundaries, enable breaks between Zoom meetings, and quell burnout by ensuring proper resourcing is achieved. These leadership changes are vital and will ensure that this transition, which will not go away, is successful for all.

If you want to work through how to adapt your leadership style for a hybrid or remote workforce, I can help. If you’re a remote or hybrid professional who is looking to better manage your time and boundaries, I can help. I’ve coached many leaders and teams through successful transformations and finding their voice and purpose. Contact me to set up a consultation.

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