If anything can be guaranteed as the world emerges from the Coronavirus Pandemic, it’s that the hybrid work style is here to stay. Businesses, ministries, non-profits, even our schools have developed effective and innovative methods to accomplish objectives both face-to-face and at a distance. Many of these initiatives have elevated businesses to new levels of success.
When considering the toolboxes and traits needed to excel in leading a hybrid workforce, no one unique skill tops the list. However, there is a combination of two specific skills which has been proven to increase employee engagement, create a commitment culture and communicate value to team members.
These two skills that must co-exist? Focusing on results and being empathetic.
New projects, initiatives and systems have demanded the development of different skills from every team member, but especially from leaders. Leaders have been required to focus intently on results, knowing that the ability for their organization to survive lies in outcomes. Because every organization was created for results and impact, every leader must keep their eyes on end outcomes.
We must also operate our teams from a place of intense humanity, a posture of empathy and compassion. In such a disconnected world, connection remains a key driver of overall job satisfaction and engagement. In fact, it’s so important that Gallup includes “Do you have a best friend at work?” as one of their top twelve questions related to successful employee engagement.
Your people long to feel known, heard, valued and significant. Those connections don’t happen transactionally–they happen relationally. The investment of intentional time, energy and wisdom into members of your team will pay big dividends in the results of your work. Developing people and managing people are on equal playing fields in the world of leadership.
In the past, it was far more acceptable for leaders to operate from either the focus on results or empathy. Leaders could play in their “natural style,” with the expectation that their employees would figure out how to work with them. Hybrid work environments changed this. Just as expectations for customer service and product superiority have increased, so have the needs of team members from their leaders.
The challenge to lead with both results-orientation and empathy is significant. Here are some action steps to help you lead from both:
Remember that culture drives engagement. Culture is about people, who always matter most.
Provide clear expectations and strong accountability systems with team members.
Ask for feedback. Casual observers around you will be able to spot if you’re leaning too heavily toward either results or empathy.
Understand your team’s threshold for change. How much they can handle and how fast? Your job is to meet them where they’re at, then run with them to the next level. Keep the bar high, but never so high that your team is crushed beneath its weight.
Monitor your pace. Sustainability should always be prioritized over speed for long-term success. In the end, few results are worth burning out your people.
Expand your capacity. It’s not enough for one or two leaders on your executive team to operate with high capacity. Every leader must master this because your organization won’t get the results you want without the willingness to drive achievement when others want to quit.
While the challenges of leadership in today’s world are great, your opportunity to create positive impact on others by balancing results-orientation and empathy is even greater.