Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Time to update your leadership model for the new reality?

During the pandemic, organizations have been forced to do business differently. In some cases, this has introduced entirely new dimensions to manage, for example in bringing remote working to organizations that had not previously experienced it. In others it has massively accelerated existing trends such as digital transformation.

The world of leadership and collaboration has changed in five key areas

  • The move to remote, hybrid and flexible working. Hybrid and remote working flexibility are hugely popular with employees and are bringing rapid changes to working patterns and skills at unprecedented scale.
  • Increasing business integration. Organizations are becoming more integrated to save costs, share resources and to enable new work and digital processes that are cutting across the traditional vertical silos of function and geography. A more matrixed way of working is required.
  • Accelerating digital transformation and the use of technology. Organizations have moved faster and further than planned and need the skills to adopt and adapt to new technologies more quickly.
  • An increased need for flexibility and agility. In times of rapid change, we need the ability and flexibility to learn, evolve and innovate faster than ever before.
  • A more human approach to leadership. The leadership agenda has shifted to take more account of wellbeing, diversity and personal circumstances

These themes define a changed environment within which our traditional leadership challenges remain.

Leaders are under tremendous pressure to implement all of this, and they have experienced a highly disruptive couple of years as individuals, and in leading others.

In this environment it is unsurprising that many of our clients are re-evaluating their leadership criteria and development programs. This may be just to determine how existing values and practises can be translated to a different environment, or they may require wholesale changes in what we expect from our leaders.

Hybrid working alone, for example, means that all leadership and collaboration skills in the future may be exercised in an environment where some people are present, and others are joining virtually. This has implications for how we run hybrid meetings, build trust and relationships, and how we overcome leadership challenges such as proximity bias and ensuring an equivalent employee experience for close and remote people.

As part of our thinking on this re-evaluation of leadership we realised that some of these themes may even be working in opposition to each other. We have identified three key dilemmas that are challenging the traditional practise of leadership and collaboration.

  • Leaders need to be more connected, at the same time as their organizations are more distributed
  • Organizations are becoming more integrated, often using a matrix structure which can add complexity. At the same time, we need to be more agile, flexible, and faster in delivering results
  • As digital transformation accelerates, we need to be more technology enabled, but at the same time we are asking leaders to be more human and to consider wellbeing and personal engagement

Reconciling these three dilemmas will be a key challenge in navigating the new reality of leading people at work.

We have, of course, developed training solutions to help leaders navigate this complexity.

You may have your own model and programs and want to add some of the skills for succeeding in a remote, hybrid, matrix, and agile/digital future.

You may want to consult with us on adding some of these ideas into your leadership models and training or pick some options from  our bite-sized training modules, or you may just want to have a conversion to kick around some ideas.

Update – just a week after this blog appeared, Novartis made an announcement about the reasons behind their restructuring which really reflects the environment described in this blog, take a look at our evaluation of their announcement here.

How are you updating your leadership criteria and training to reflect the new reality? If these themes resonate with you, please contact us to schedule a conversation.

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