Whether you’re an entrepreneur leading a single-person team or an executive overseeing an entire department at your company, one thing is for sure: leadership in 2022 is going to look a lot different than it was a few years back.
Since the start of the pandemic, remote employment has reduced in-person work, and the introduction of a hybrid work model has caused 40% of the global workforce to consider leaving their jobs. And these are just a few of the new challenges that business leaders need to contend with.
So, what skills are going to be the most important for business leaders as we continue on toward the new normal?
1. Emotional Intelligence
Managing your own emotions and those of your employees is tough enough when you work together in person.
Remove that in-person connection and ease of communication? This problem gets amplified tenfold.
For leaders, finding ways to sharpen their emotional intelligence is vital to their success. It means finding ways to be extra mindful and perceptive of emotions, especially during times of heightened stress or uncertainty.
You can do this by:
- Building more personal relationships with team members
- Taking time to communicate with people in an informal way
- Seeking feedback often
- Being mindful and paying attention to verbal and non-verbal cues
It’s easier said than done but it’s important.
2. Remote Communication
With a growing number of people working remotely, refining remote communication skills is a must.
This includes getting familiar with the latest and greatest tech and software, such as Zoom and Slack.
But it also includes tailoring the way you communicate, such as:
- Being extra proactive in communicating with people
- Asking for communication preferences
- Prioritizing video calls over non-video ones
- Being extra mindful of your tone and body language
- Not only allowing but encouraging banter and chit-chat
Communication helps keep everyone happy, even in a remote world.
Whether you’ve got one team member or twenty, your ability to build trust with them will be more important than ever in the future.
This can be done by:
- Making sure you always deliver on your promises
- Being consistent
- Asking for feedback and acting on it
- Avoiding micromanaging at all costs
- Communicating consistently
Building trust is even more challenging in a remote environment when you lack visibility into what your team member is doing but it’s vital for the success of any colleague relationship.
4. Active Listening
Rather than actually listening, we all too often simply sit back and wait for our turn to speak.
One of the best things you can do as a leader is to truly hear your people. It’ll allow you to understand how they’re feeling, and it will also let them know that you’re present and invested in what they have to say.
You can practice active listening by:
- Approach conversations with the goal of learning rather than informing.
- Give your undivided attention to the person you’re talking to. Don’t multitask. Stay present in the conversation.
- Proactively ensure you’ve got all the details. Ask direct, specific questions that focus on the conversation – things like, “How did you come to this conclusion?” “How would this work?” Or “Tell me more about…”
- Reiterate points to drill them into your memory. Fact-check things you feel unclear on or don’t understand. Follow up on points they’ve made to ensure you’ve got it right.
This goes a long way in making you a more inspiring leader.
5. Employee Experience and Engagement
Given the fact that 40% of the working world is considering leaving their jobs, finding ways to engage your people and focus on their experience is vital.
This could be taking them out to lunch once a month or giving them Fridays off in the summer.
The key is to understand what matters to your people and to do your best to provide it for them.
And if you do end up needing to hire new people, check out this article we wrote with tips for confidently hiring remote talent.
6. Adaptability and Change Management
Ironically enough, the most consistent theme in the past few years has been change and uncertainty.
That’s why it’s vital for you to focus on being adaptable and prioritizing change management. This is important for your business as a whole, but also for managing people.
Tweak your mindset to embrace being nimble and understand that things can change fast. That way, you’ll always be ready to react when you need to.
7. Mentorship and Coaching
Now more than ever, people need mentorship and coaching to navigate the new normal. Always be ready to support your people with sound advice and guidance. And make sure to be extra thoughtful and patient when explaining things.
Want to brush up on your mentorship and coaching skills? Consider seeking volunteer opportunities in your field.
8. Performance Management
Performance management is going to be vital going forward. In fact, 92% of employees believe negative feedback, when delivered correctly, is effective at improving performance. And, on the other hand, 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. But the problem is that 90% of performance reviews are painful and ineffective,
Strong performance management is:
- Structured, consistent, and recurring, whether monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual
- Clear, specific, and formalize, focusing on “what” rather than “how”
- Two-way, both providing feedback but also requesting feedback from your team on ways that you could help better support their success.
- Focused on results rather than hours allocated, especially in a remote work scenario
Employees want to know where they stand, in real time, and in no uncertain terms. And they don’t want to wait a year to hear about things they could’ve done differently. Make sure to prioritize strong performance management and often valuable, action-oriented feedback.
9. Stress Management
Especially in the midst of uncertain times, stress can be a big factor that impacts the performance and wellbeing of team members.
Stress management is vital, both for yourself and anybody you employ, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
It can be as simple as:
- Taking a 10-minute walk when you feel stress
- Practicing mindfulness
It’s also wise to avoid multitasking and to know when you or your employee need some downtime from work.
The role of a leader is constantly evolving, especially in the midst of uncertainty and changing work environments. So, whether you have one employee, twenty employees, or just a team of contractors who help you run your business, the techniques and skills you need to manage them will look a lot different next year than they have in the past.
The key is setting yourself up for success by understanding these changes, embracing them, and taking steps to prepare yourself for them.
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