Business leaders have a more challenging role than ever before. But threats to health, the economy and general uncertainty, have made the role of the leader even more important. With the dawn of the new hybrid work environment, it’s necessary for leaders to support employees no matter where they are working.
We spoke to business and leadership expert Mandy Holloway to offer a refreshing managerial perspective and provide some insights to help tackle the issues many leaders are grappling with as they move forward.
Mandy Holloway is a big advocate for positive workplaces that foster a supportive and unifying culture in a hybrid landscape. The future of work will look different, but according to Mandy, it’s up to managers to lead with empathy, equity, inclusion and empower individuals as they navigate the way ahead.
It may seem daunting at first for leaders as they try to balance varying employee preferences while ensuring teams continue to work towards high productivity levels and constructively collaborate.
Some staff members may be enthusiastic to get back to working in the office while others may want to continue working from home. And for some, they’ll want a mix of both. It takes adaptability and willingness to trial new methods to successfully lead hybrid teams.
In the new working landscape, leaders may encounter difficulties with digital inclusion and ensuring all workers have the necessary equipment to do their job, maintaining workplace culture and sustaining effective communication with all staff, in and out of the office.
In this evolving hybrid workforce, Mandy says that leaders can better manage with trust and empowerment at the forefront of their processes. “Leadership now can’t be about control or power,” says Mandy, “It has to be about vulnerability, trust, and empowerment.”
Create company values
Company values are essential to impart guiding principles, common goals, and positive company culture for the sake of every individual.
Mandy believes that the organisational leaders who have struck gold are those that have acknowledged the wants and needs of all employees and called upon their input in formulating the company values. Mandy says that this helps to equalise and unify staff and as such, “upholds respect as well as inspiring empathy in the workplace”.
Encourage professional development
Professional development should always be a priority in the workplace and shouldn’t ever be limited to the in-office work setting.
By heightening empathetic leadership, managers can assist individuals and teams to consistently “grow and develop their capabilities” which Mandy believes will make “employees feel valued and supported”.
Leaders should actively encourage their staff to strive to be their best. Through this continual pursuit for individual and organisational excellence, success is inevitable.
Promote autonomy, inclusion, and transparency
It’s critical for leaders to “emulate the behaviour and work ethic they want to see in their employees. This helps staff to be more solution-oriented,” says Mandy.
There also must be intentional, genuine connection and interaction as this contributes to better communication and understanding in the workplace.
“Leaders need to have better conversations,” says Mandy. “This will empower their employees to make constructive decisions. It puts trust in them. The hybrid workplace will challenge leaders to converse and communicate better and sometimes, that means having hard conversations with emotionally charged content. It’s important for leaders to be prepared and skilled to do this, even via Zoom.”
Leaders need to connect with their staff at a human level for them to feel seen, heard and understood. This will boost the morale of individuals and teams which is extremely valuable in managing hybrid workplaces while supporting their overall output.