Employment-labour-labor-organization-leadership-zoom-meeting

Work from anywhere: Leadership challenges

Transforming Workplace - #17

Author:

 

Global Publication June 2022

This is the 17th article in our Transforming Workplace series focusing on ‘work from anywhere’ and hybrid work.

In our earlier article “Leadership Reimagined” we explored why employees’ expectations of their leaders have changed, and why organisations need to upgrade leaders’ skills and behaviours.

We will now examine how organisations can upskill their leaders to meet the specific leadership challenges arising from ‘work from anywhere’ and hybrid work arrangements.

It has become clear that “managing remote workers differs greatly from managing in-house workers”1 and many organisations are therefore aware that ‘work from anywhere’ means they need to upskill their leaders:

New investment in training for leaders
  • A 2021 survey of US executives found that 64% planned new investment in training for leaders “to manage a more virtual workforce.”2
Top 5 priorities for HR leaders in 2022
  • Another survey of HR leaders in 60 countries found that one of the top five priorities for HR leaders in 2022 is upskilling their “current and future leadership bench.”3
 

The critical challenge facing organisations is deciding how to upskill their current and future leadership team. This challenge is complicated by the “new skills and capabilities” required for leaders to “succeed in the post-pandemic era.”4

Organisations are now asking much more from their leaders in ‘work from anywhere / hybrid’ workplaces, and one view is that leaders need to be upskilled with this “wide range of paradoxical characteristics:”4

Strategic executers

  • Strategic Executers - balancing vision with execution,
  • Humble Heroes - willing to make bold decisions while being great listeners and champions of inclusivity,
  • Tech-Savvy Humanists - adopting new technologies while understanding and caring for their people,
  • Traditioned Innovators – preserving the mission and purpose of their organisations while pushing innovation to the extreme, 
  • High-Integrity Politicians – willing to compromise, accrue support and form coalitions, while doing so with the utmost integrity, and 
  • Globally-Minded Localists – expanding their reach while also looking for privileged insights into their own customers.

If we accept that organisations need to upskill their current and future leaders with some or all of these comprehensive leadership characteristics, how should organisations start this upskilling process?

One solution is to adopt Gartner’s “roadmap … to reshape … leadership for a sustainable hybrid workplace.”5 This roadmap is centred on Gartner’s theory that true Human Leadership comprises three leadership components:5

leadership-components

  • Authentic Leadership – where leaders act with purpose and enable true self-expression for themselves and their teams,
  • Empathetic Leadership – where leaders show genuine care, respect and concern for employees’ well-being, and
  • Adaptive Leadership – where leaders enable flexibility and support that fit team members’ unique needs.

However, Gartner also cautions that organisations should be aware that three “types of leaders prevent true Human Leadership:”5

Doubtful achievers
  • The Doubtful Achievers – 28% of leaders doubt that Human Leadership is important to achieve business objectives.
Fearful believers
  • The Fearful Believers – 21% of leaders fear the vulnerability and risk associated with Human Leadership.
 
Uncertain Strivers
  • The Uncertain Strivers – 22% of leaders feel uncertain about how to effectively deliver Human Leadership.
 

Returning to Gartner’s roadmap to reshape leadership, the roadmap has three distinct phases:5

Roadmap to reshape leadership

  1. Immediate Action Steps: Identify Barriers and Opportunities.
  2. Next 90 Days: Establish Resources for Change.
  3. Next 12 Months: Implement a More Human Approach.

We consider that Gartner’s “12-month roadmap to reshape … leadership for a sustainable hybrid workplace”5 offers an excellent framework for organisations to develop a tailored program to upskill their current and future leadership team. 

Norton Rose Fulbright assists organisations to efficiently and effectively address the legal aspects of the new global work environment, including ‘working from anywhere’ and hybrid work. Please reach out if we can assist your organisation in this respect.


Footnotes

1 N De Marco, Forbes Technology Council Post, ‘How to Avoid the Obstacles of Managing Hybrid Teams’, 29 October 2021.

2 PwC’s US Remote Work Survey, ‘It’s Time to Reimagine Where and How Work Will get Done’, 12 January 2021.

3 Gartner for HR, ‘Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2022’, derived from the 2022 Gartner Future of HR Survey.

4 P Leinward, M M Mani, B Sheppard, Harvard Business Review, ‘6 Leadership Paradoxes for the Post-Pandemic Era’, 23 April 2021.

5 Gartner for HR, ‘Evolve Culture & Leadership for the Hybrid Workplace – A 12-Month Roadmap for CHRO’s and Their Leadership Team’.



Recent publications

Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest legal news, information and events...