Companies across the globe are currently grappling with how to make the hybrid work model work for their team. The question everyone is asking: “What should a working week look like?” From working two days from home and three in the office; to going entirely remote; or forcing everyone back to their desk full-time – it’s a jostle between what will benefit the bottom line and still make everyone happy.
But amidst the tug-of-war, the negotiation, the compromise and the redesign… is it possible that we have all completely missed the point; and that we’re asking the wrong question? What if the choice wasn’t ‘working from the office’ or ‘working from home’. After all, these two choices represent a very narrow view of society and the workforce composition. Rather, I’d like to believe the choice is one of leadership and how you evolve with the times to transform the way you lead into the future.
Leadership isn’t about location – it’s about evolution; it’s about the creation of value. It’s what will turn our attention away from an obsession with flexible workspaces to focus more on why we would work from these places in the first place and how to lead towards a greater sense of communal success. It’s what will see us move away from the obsession with how ‘inputs’ are made, in favour of ‘strategic value and outputs’ – which is how to shape a truly high-impact and sustainable future.
Location is less important than leadership and the choices you make
When making choices about your time and where you spend it, it’s time to move away from “Where do I work from?” and lean in towards a more strategic starting point. As a leader, you can reposition your start position by thinking about how you want your team to experience you both personally and professionally. Do you start from a position of self-service? Or do you use self-preservation to steer through the choices at hand? Do you start from a position of stakeholder outcomes, considering where you could have the greatest impact? Do you consider the expectations of your role to lead growth, collaboration, performance and emotional commitment for the business and your life more broadly?
The choice to lead more progressively and to be more granular about intent will set you up for a future of abundance; while the alternative will limit growth. When looked at like this, hybrid working has very little to do with location. What it actually is, is a dare to lead…a dare to have the courage to make bold decisions and set your business up for disproportionate growth.
Consider the corporate ‘we’, not just ‘me’- collaboration always wins
Leaders understand that it’s easy for work to become an ‘egocentric system’ where it’s ‘all about me’. Evidence of egocentric systems will show up as top-down control, independent silos, territorial power struggles, self-interest, withholding information and blame. The modernity of leadership involves shifting this to an ‘ecosystem’ where it’s about ‘us’ and the changes we can ignite for our customers. This looks like an environment that catalyses influence, conversations, alignment, partnerships, mutual empowerment, mutual support, joint knowledge and mutual accountability. The latter has a knock-on effect to its customers and clients by integrating work across a value chain: people connecting multiple tasks, responsibilities, projects and processes that deliver solutions to the marketplace. It’s not just about one individual doing their job successfully, but the network of people doing what they do well and are passionate about.
Transforming leadership – not just about productivity, but shared purpose
Over my 20 years of working with leaders from diverse backgrounds, I have observed that it’s essential for leaders to understand the power of leading with a clear intention. Leaders need to consider how they cultivate leading growth, collaboration, commitment and performance through how they work; what they prioritise and of course where that all gets done. Being available and accessible – physically and digitally – builds trust, which in turn will boost performance.
Getting your team through challenging times starts with finding and embodying your own unique purpose, then connecting how that feeds into the organisational purpose as a whole. When your personal bottom line is healthy and you know who you are and what you bring to your work, life and leadership (your ‘why’), work then becomes less about ticking off tasks. You’ll start to create a sense of shared purpose that is easy for others to buy into, and productivity will naturally lift.
It matters how a leader shows up – the humanity they bring, the reciprocity they cultivate, the moments they create and the clarity with which they can answer: ‘Why does it matter whether I’m here?’ Presence in the workplace goes beyond the physical – it’s about intentionality and connection.
When it comes to hybrid working, we need to ask better questions; to shift the conversation from the location to leadership. Organisations that can do this successfully will reap the rewards in years to come as they set themselves up to outpace competitors.
The Future Learning Organisation
Traditional corporate learning doesn’t leave much to the imagination. The usual classroom-led courses and 70-20-10 mindset are familiar reminders of what corporate learning means to most employees. During these learning experiences, we hope that employees take away as much knowledge as possible and utilize it to not only make them better performers, but also better human beings.
Stop Feeding the Swans: Initial Lessons for Leaders From COVID-19
As black-swan events go, COVID-19 is a pterodactyl – a mega event that threatens to blow up global economic drivers, known production paradigms, trade agreements, market values, our concept of critical industries and much more.
Growth & Optimism with Alison Simpson
November 2021 marks 20 years since the founding of our firm. To celebrate this milestone, we commissioned a unique artwork by Indigenous artist Alison Simpson to represent the impact we have had with leaders illustrating how their impact ripples across organisations, communities and society more broadly. Alison explains the thinking behind her painting.