Leadership skills and methods need to change to accommodate the new hybrid model of work, part in-person, and part virtual. Coordinating remote teams is quite different from coordinating office teams. Leaders need to improve some skills and even acquire new ones to stay relevant and effective.
Three leadership skills that need change
The pandemic has shown us that while individual work can be done virtually, face-to-face interactions are essential for creating a company culture, collective learning, and innovation.
Now that the restrictions are off, many companies want their employees back at the office at least a few days every week. This is the beginning of the hybrid work era. Intellectual work will be more flexible and tailored to individual needs and preferences.
And in this hybrid work era, leaders should update their game as they perform simultaneously the three-C roles in their team.
In every team, the role of the coach is of utter importance. It is your main job to coordinate the team and teach its members how to collaborate to achieve the best results possible. You have to plan carefully and make sure that each of your people plays in the right position, according to their skills and strengths.
Track their progress and make adjustments wherever and whenever it’s needed. Find the best ways to motivate your people, and encourage them to foster relationships based on trust and mutual respect. One of the biggest challenges you will encounter as a coach is finding a way to push your people to succeed without micromanaging them. Give a gentle push and guide them in the right direction when needed, but don’t overstep. Nobody likes an authoritarian leader that gives no freedom. This usually sends the message that they don’t trust their people.
As a coach, you also have the responsibility to have regular one-on-one meetings with your team members. Use them as an opportunity to offer advice and mentor them. Help them reach peak performance by encouraging the use of their individual strengths. Have a personal relationship with each of your players and show genuine care for their personal and professional growth. In turn, this will help you create a team of dedicated and loyal workers. Make sure you steer them in the right direction and encourage them to leave their comfort zone and shoot for the stars.
In the era of hybrid work, a virtual coach has to use different tools compared to an in-person one. The right team collaboration app can help you stay in touch with your team in real-time, share documents and keep track of their work. Virtual one-on-one meetings are just as valuable and important as the ones held face-to-face at the office. Make use of the right technology to steer your team in the right direction during the virtual part of the new hybrid work model.
As the team’s cheerleader, it is your duty to stimulate collaboration, creativity, and innovation by creating an environment in which the team feels valued and encouraged.
Keep the morale up by showing support to the team as a collective and to each player individually. Always have a positive attitude. It is already common knowledge that happy employees perform better at their jobs. A happy team is an effective team.
Approach conflict in a constructive way and encourage a certain degree of friendly competition amongst team members. This will most likely bring positive outcomes by pushing each other to become the best version of themselves.
Don’t let failure discourage your team. Instead, consider it a valuable learning experience. Encourage your people to try different approaches and don’t let them get discouraged if they don’t get it right from the first try.
Being a virtual cheerleader is not very different from being an office cheerleader. It’s all about your attitude towards your team and your capacity to express yourself in a positive way.
Besides being a top player with leadership abilities, the role of a captain also requires you to be a good negotiator. Build alliances and secure the resources that your team needs to keep performing at its best.
While doing everything you can to lead your team to victory, it’s also your job to sustain the connection between your team and the outside world. You are their advocate and their most fierce supporter. Emphasize their victories and use their accomplishments to gain support from those in positions of power.
The role of a team captain is especially difficult in the virtual environment. While forging connections and meeting key stakeholders online is absolutely possible, in-person meetings give you an advantage. People are more likely to trust those whose hands they can shake.
It’s all about TRUST
This sports metaphor illustrates very well the roles of a team leader in the era of hybrid work. And let’s not forget that you have to perform all of these roles simultaneously.
Ultimately, it all comes down to your ability to foster trust in each and every role you hold, with everybody involved:
- Build trust with each member of your team. Show them that you are always there, ready to help, open to mentor or give advice, and eager to cheer for them.
- Strengthen trust amongst your team members. Share achievements and show how each member is contributing to the overall success of the entire team.
- Foster trust with executives and stakeholders. Reach your objectives, meet your deadlines, and be honest about your progress.
The era of hybrid work just begun. It’s OK to feel like you don’t have it all under control yet. Focus on developing your leadership skills in all the three-C’s and building relationships based on trust.