In the past couple of years, the world has witnessed more change than in the last two decades. It is a time of resilience, empathy, and disruption. After crises that shook humanity, the world is hoping for a return to normalcy with learnings from the disruptions. The new normal seems vastly different from what was widely accepted pre-pandemic. Today the world calls for a more humanitarian approach to leadership that is driven by purpose and change. So here, is a guide to leadership in the new normal.
Important leadership skills to learn in 2022
2022 is undoubtedly a time for adapting to shift and change. The great resignation wave, the evolution of hybrid work modes, greater inclination towards inclusion in the workplace, etc all point to ushering in a change.
Therefore, in 2022 leadership is no longer only about team performance and numbers. It is about leading your team with purpose, inclusion, diversity, empathy, and building relationships that last.
Leaders are also now expected to be more emotionally intelligent and accountable for building a positive organizational culture. Executives are now transforming to be visionaries helping team members adapt to the change.
Communication is also a key skill to being an effective leader in 2022. Leaders who communicate regularly with team members are more likely to understand the team dynamics, team needs, and be empowered to motivate team members. Leaders of today must be more inspiring than ever.
Leadership Trends in 2022
One of the key distinguishing leadership trends in 2022 is to lead remote teams. Building relationships pre-pandemic was easier owing to frequent interpersonal interactions between team members. However, remote work has changed it all. Teams are now more diverse and larger than ever.
Cross-functional teams are also now more common. Most importantly, geographical constraints no longer apply to teams in the new normal. Some team members may never meet in person. So, being able to build lasting relationships in remote work is a key leadership trend in 2022 that is likely to continue through the decade.
Some of the other trends are investing in the success of individual team members, intrinsically motivating team members, improving collaboration, embracing employee well-being, and leveraging technology. As employees now prioritize flexibility and well-being over pay and perks, it is time for leaders to approach a holistic view of leadership.
Some executives have also started to practice innovative leadership theories to adapt to the trends. Some examples of this are the emergence of servant leadership and situational leadership theories. While these theories existed before, they were not as popular as they are today. Leaders are expected to be more open to challenges, change, and learning in 2022.
Leadership challenges in 2022
Employee mental health, team silos, lack of communication, and low morale are some of the common challenges in 2022. Due to a prolonged period of remote work, employees have been experiencing low morale and a disconnect with employers for a while.
As employers tried to stay connected with employees through remote communication, it has only worsened the landscape and led to meeting fatigues. Although it is positive that mental health is now more openly discussed, there is an increase in people who need mental health support.
The blurring lines between work-life balance is also one of the challenges that leaders in 2022 need to address. If left unaddressed, these challenges will lead to a high employee turnover and a negative impact on the organizational culture.
Leadership strategies for 2022
To be an inspiring leader in 2022 is to be more empathetic and accommodating to the needs of individual team members. Espousing a growth mindset that helps team members address their motivational needs, improving collaboration, appreciation for values that build the culture, and acknowledging contributions are some strategies to become a better leader in 2022.
The great resignation wave is a testament to how employees are now striving to find purpose and are no longer motivated by pay scales alone. Therefore, it is now time for leaders to work together with employees to help them in identifying purpose, build their career paths, and improve trust.
Trust is one of the most important factors to be focused on in 2022. As employees are more inclined to find employers who care about employee wellness, trust has become a priority. Employees no longer favor organizations that lack a commitment to employee wellbeing. Building trust requires leaders to be more proactive in building relationships. Also, due to remote work being more common in an unprecedented way, trust is now harder to build. Leaders now need to communicate more frequently and develop cordial relationships selflessly to build that trust.
Although remote teams have been as effective as in-office teams, employees and employers experienced a disconnect in going 100% virtual. Therefore, the new normal has shifted gears to adopt hybrid work where employees have the flexibility to go remote partially while still being present for in-person interactions whenever needed. While the percentage of flexibility is unique to every organization, hybrid work has become the most accepted form of work today. To lead hybrid teams, leaders need to go the extra mile than during conventional times.
Leaders in hybrid work environments need to emphasize communication, purpose, and clarity. Frequent and smooth communication helps teams collaborate better in hybrid environments. Organizing team-building sessions to improve team communication and build relationships between team members is important to leading hybrid teams. Also, leaders must ensure that when teams spend time working from an office, they need to make the most of that time to develop interpersonal skills and collaboration. Adopting a coaching style of leadership can make a significant impact on hybrid teams.
Investing in good leadership is investing in employee retention. Leadership style has a drastic impact on the organizational culture and employee experience. It is often said that people do not leave organizations, they rather leave managers. Therefore, ensuring that the management team takes a proactive approach to transform themselves into good leaders is a direct investment in your employee retention strategies. Organizing leadership training programs is also a way to usher in better talent for your organization.
The corporate world has never denied the importance of having good leaders. However, pre-pandemic leadership was vastly different from what it is today. Performance was the primary criteria for effectiveness pre-pandemic whereas today the world calls for a more collaborative and selfless approach to leadership. Understanding the needs of employees is now a top priority for organizations of all sizes as employees are now looking for more challenging and unique roles. Therefore, leaders of today need to be more accepting, empowering, and inspiring to their teams.