Skip to content

Smarter Working: The Need for Adaptive Leadership

In the second of three new Smarter Working blogs, Director Stuart Pearce considers the type of  leadership skills required to connect better with teams, as we slowly emerge from the pandemic. 

Many of today’s businesses are too slow, too siloed, too bureaucratic, built for the old pre-Covid world. The new world demands greater flexibility and organisations built on trust. Our leaders need to adapt, using Covid-19 as an example, to lead differently.

LinkedIn recently completed a survey of 250 UK CEO’s who recognised that they need to harness the benefits of home working and adapt to the changing ways of working. They felt that now is the time to develop plans, rather than wait for the pandemic to end.

Leaders need to adapt. The predominate skills required are ‘people’ and ‘behavioural’ skills and people that can prioritise in the face of massive ambiguity, manage constant change, and get the most out of your people. Costi Karayannis, the Managing Director of Learning Services at Capita believes that organisations that do not focus on people leadership will fail. He feels that cultural transformation is required.

Fortunately, these skills can be learnt, and cultural transformation can be achieved, measured, and embedded. So how do you do this?

You need to build psychological safety in your team where opinions are valued, and people feel listened too. This does not come naturally for some or easy, but once organisations understand the benefits of inclusive leadership the results will speak for themselves.

Leaders need to show authenticity, where the small stuff matters and they act as role models, engaging with clients regularly and being accountable for their actions. Leaders need to be human, speaking to their teams in a manner that they would like people to speak to them. It is also very important to remain respectful, even from behind a Zoom/Teams screen, where a lot of our interactions are happening today.

Adapting your leadership style needs to start with a clear vision, values, and behaviours, recently described by Alison Wilcox the HRD at BT as a “set of north stars”. Wilcox believes it is important to set your culture and communicate consistently to teams and your customers, providing clarity and direction. She also feels that it is important to learn through the harsh times and come out stronger.

Leaders need to be respectful, empathetic, honest, trustworthy, consistent, and provide your people with confidence in the future. Effective leaders place choice into the hands of your staff and making your people feel that they have choices which breeds resilience.

At Journey4 we advise that leaders break down their vision and plan for the short, medium, and long-term and align these milestones with personal objectives to help embed throughout the organisation. Create a road map and talk about the ‘journey’ consistently and regularly and this will help to guide the transformation process.

Recognising the need for different leadership skills in the future, Journey4 has developed a 4 day – 4 week – 4-month programme to develop and learn the adaptive leadership skills required to be successful in the future

For more information about how to develop adaptive leadership skills you may be interested in our ‘Adaptive Leadership’ paper