ARTICLE: How do we develop leaders for the workplace when the workplace has disappeared?
If I were just getting out of school in this world, I would be asking my prospective employers if I’d be able live anywhere if I take their job. Indeed, that IS what young people are asking these days in the workplace. We prefer flexibility and autonomy in our work—we like working when we want, where we want. Companies have been catering to this to recruit the best talent. And it doesn’t diminish productivity; rather, it can actually boost it.
Since 2020, we’ve all been relearning leadership development for the new remote environment where autonomy is both a mode of work and must-have to compete in the War for Talent. HBR.org found that 77% of workers want to work for a company that lets them work from anywhere. As learning leaders, what should we be looking for in this environment?
One study suggests that achievement is more important in choosing remote leaders than ascription (all those traits we commonly think of for leaders). If this finding is accurate, maybe we’re moving a little closer to meritocracy. Leaders now need to show results.
Another factor may be the need for more people to assume leadership roles. The nature of “autonomy” requires that everyone be their own mini leader, with greater focus, initiative, and accountability. When the organization is dispersed, we need to assess whether more layers of leaders are needed.
And, there’s still the pandemic. As leaders adapt to the virtual workplace and more autonomous business models, they still have lingering stressors affecting their families and the families of their team members. Our current leaders may need to “heal and repair.” The workplace as we have known it may have disappeared, but we’re all still here. We must keep learning.