Flexible or agile workplaces - with increased user mobility inside and outside of the workplace, alter the interactions and relationships between employees and teams. The subsequent reduction in visibility of employees and teams means that future ‘flexible leaders’ need to possess certain skills or competencies to effectively manage a flexible workforce. Thus, a prevalent question in workplace change management discussions is: What makes a successful leader in a flexible workplace? The answer: Successful leaders in flexible workplaces are similar to successful leaders in traditional workplaces. They are ‘transformational’ leaders that get the most out of their employees functionally, in addition to supporting their psycho-social needs.
Effective flexible leaders are those that balance relationship competencies with transactional task-focused competencies. That is, they are leaders that promote business effectiveness by planning for and adapting flexible working processes and procedures, in addition to emotionally supporting their people.
Many attributes contribute to an effective flexible leader, including:
_ A focus on employee development and continuous improvement, through altered versions of mentorship and coaching. These values are imperative to employees from younger generations.
_ An inspirational vision by the leader that constantly evolves and communicates varying flexible work demands with clear expectations. They adjust their leadership styles to provide adequate and alternative versions of job control and support.
_ An ability to manage their people through change and provide opportunities for interactions and collaboration. They are leaders that balance relationships with tasks, which is fundamental to a ‘transformational leader’, who have proven to achieve higher levels of success along with greater employee satisfaction, increased motivation and improved effectiveness.
Effective flexible leaders never dismiss the softer human side to work and recognise the diversity in their employees’; understanding each person’s individual needs, abilities and aspirations. With trust, they foster a sense of belongingness in their people by promoting connectivity and positive relationships to create an engaged culture.
In summary, effective flexible leaders are ‘emotionally intelligent’, recognising the meaning of emotions and their relationships. Such leaders have the capability to perceive and even manage emotions; acting as change catalysts, managing conflict, in addition to promoting positive team work.
Keti Malkoski, Principal - People and Culture
Follow Keti on twitter @kmalkoski