As the vaccination programme enables us to hope for a gradual relaxation of restrictions, we need to start discussing what sort of leadership we want in the future. I say want, leadership is strongly contextual and so what we want is only half of it. The other half is what we need to rebuild our businesses and the economy.

The pandemic is bringing fundamental changes to the business environment. What this will look like eventually is still unclear. It is a bit like one of those snow globes that you shake and watch the flakes fly around wondering where they will land.

One thing that seems certain, however, is that we are unlikely to go back to 9 to 5 in the office five days a week. A mix of home and remote working is likely, and people will no longer be constrained to live near to their offices. Whilst we are now well set up to manage remote teams, the leadership styles and management techniques that we will need to meet the gradual changes over the next couple of years will be different from those we need now. Understanding what will be required must start now so we are ready to meet the changes as they happen.

One of the first issues is how we allocate roles and set performance expectations. It is reported that many businesses are using surveillance technology to keep control of their remote workers. This just continues our ways of old where we assess people according to the long hours they work, or through their inputs. For sure, workers will just find ways round the surveillance that are akin to ‘leaving your jacket over the chair’ to create the illusion that you are still there. The new way means ditching contractual hours but knowing how to assess people according to their outputs. The first step is making it clear to people what is expected of them. Too often, I find, managers have only a vague idea of what good looks like, let alone what makes performance great.

Over the next few weeks, I will go further into how we do this, but please do join the conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn.



©Janice Caplan 2020