We hear it every day: this is the “future of work.” This phrase is showing up everywhere, but do we really know when we’ll cross the threshold from the way things have been to the way things will be? By definition, the future of work assumes the coming decade, but does that mean that as the years go by, we’ll always be chasing it and never really arriving there? We don’t think so.
While some companies and leaders are still doing things the old-fashioned way, most are shifting with the changing environment and adopting new workforce trends—which means in many ways, we’re already in the future of work (the way things will be) while simultaneously hanging on to some of the way things have been. The reality is that the future of work is happening in the present, and the sooner we address it this way, the sooner we’ll let go of the old and cross that threshold.
In a recent survey conducted by Gartner, over 850 HR leaders across 60 countries identified their top 5 priorities for HR in 2023. Top of the list? Leader and manager effectiveness.
Becoming a leader of the future today, requires a continuous refinement of management styles and leadership skills. To offer a helping hand, we’ll be sharing 3 secrets to successfully managing your team in 2023:
Open up to new ways of working
Be flexible: the workforce is constantly moving, shifting, and changing at a rapid pace, and if you want to succeed as a manager, flexibility is the way to go.
That means being open to different ways of working, new ideas and perspectives, and being willing to switch things up when they aren't working. Because let's be real, being rigid and inflexible is limiting and can lead to unsatisfied and unfulfilled team members, and if you're stuck on outdated ways of doing things, it’s going to be a lot harder to reach your full potential as a manager.
Here’s what flexible leaders look like:
- They stay up to date with industry trends and advancements as well as new technologies or processes that have the potential to improve efficiency and productivity.
- They encourage a healthy work-life balance for team members, recognizing the importance of taking care of oneself to be able to perform at their best at work.
- If a project is not meeting expectations, flexible leaders will quickly reassess and come up with a new plan of action.
- They’re always aware and ready to adapt to new regulations or laws affecting the company.
- They recognize that not every decision will be a success, so they encourage experimentation, and aren’t afraid to take calculated risks.
- They’re open to feedback and are willing to adjust their leadership style to better fit the team's needs.
- They’re willing to delegate and trust team members to take on responsibilities and make decisions.
Lead with love
Yes, love. In a world where people have been leading with fear, be the changemaker that leads with love instead.
Love in the workplace might not be the most familiar (or comfortable) concept to think about, but it’s been studied for over a decade and the findings are quite promising. Scholars are suggesting that the leader-follower relationship is actually highly personal and that the wisest leaders will create relationships based upon their genuine love for others. This is one of the critical tasks of effective leaders.
Through his Ph.D research in values-driven leadership, Colonel Joe Ricciardi defined love as “intimacy, passion, and commitment” stating that, “intimacy rules [all 3] because if you've invested the time, emotion, and positive energy into building an intimate relationship with your team, you will have demonstrated commitment and your passion will shine through."
Leading with love can look like this:
- Being empathetic and caring about your team members individually
Intentionally learning what inspires and empowers each team member.
- Understanding their challenges and accommodating to their needs
Encouraging them to become the best version of themselves.
- Mindfully communicating with transparency and openness, even (and especially) when the conversation is a difficult one.
- Seeing the human before the employee; displaying people-centric leadership in a human-to-human workplace.
Gartner’s report defined human-centric leadership as leading with authenticity, empathy, and adaptivity, highlighting that these traits are among the key qualities of great leaders. Couple that with love at the heart of your leadership and you’re sure to cultivate a strong and successful team.
Create a feedback-first culture
The path of communication between leaders and their teams is a vital element to maintaining a healthy work culture that thrives. Learning good communications skills that reflect openness and transparency should be a core leadership priority that can inspire your team to respond with the same qualities.
In an ideal workforce with a strong culture of trust, feedback goes both ways. Leaders deliver both: praise and acknowledgement for a job well done, and constructive criticism when there’s room for improvement. Employees feel safe enough to share their honest feedback in return; however, managers should make it a point to specifically request feedback, because employees might hesitate to share if unsolicited.
Here are a few reasons why establishing a feedback-first culture is imperative to your success as a leader:
- Acknowledgement and validation will motivate your employees to keep going and aim higher.
- Constructive criticism—when communicated thoughtfully and followed by suggested solutions—will make them aware of areas that need improvement, which is another motivating factor for their self-development.
- Recognition and gratitude will make them feel seen and appreciated for their efforts, and this not only builds self-esteem but also reflects what leading with love can look like.
- Feedback can also help you become a better leader, and highlight areas within and about yourself—both positive and negative—that you might have not otherwise seen, which is always the first step to self-improvement.
We can all agree that the future of work appears to be evolving at a speed that can catch us off-guard, especially if we’re not making friends with change. What this means is that keeping an open mind and choosing fluidity can help us better ride the waves of change and adapt with less resistance.
As a leader in today’s world, what steps are you taking to be more welcoming toward the future of work? By having such an influential role, you’ve earned yourself a position of great responsibility, so pat yourself on the back, get out there, and don’t be afraid to prioritize the human element!
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