Throughout the post-COVID years, managers had grown used to the same in-office routines they had experienced their entire professional careers. “They rarely had to deal with connectivity issues or making sure their team stays engaged with low supervision”, Talentsoft say in their brand-new e-book The Role of the Manager in 2021. “Teams will no longer accept heroic leadership, wherein those in power made all the choices.”
The age of the connector leader
Instead, a successful leader in a distributed or hybrid workplace is what Talentsoft have dubbed the ‘connector’ leader: someone who is a great active listener and recognises routines or risks, so they can be discussed ahead of time. “It’s all about aligning all roles, outcomes, responsibilities, and workflows”, they say. “Managers do this by talking to their team and listing out guidelines or norms for individuals to follow.
“It’s all about aligning all roles, outcomes, responsibilities, and workflows.”
“We went to our employees who were mostly millennials and asked them: What does a great leader look like?”, said Debra Corey, Chief ‘Pay It Forward’ Officer at DebCo HR Limited. “The top 10 answers were about being open, honest, and a great communicator. Own your mistakes. Admit your mistakes. Be human. All those characteristics run into this whole concept of humility. And staying humble and empathic is even more important now.”
“We are facing new challenges today that we have never faced before”, says Alexandre Pachulski, co-founder of Talentsoft. “No one should be expected to have all the answers. In fact, it’s ok to say, ‘I don’t know.’ Because not knowing the answer isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s an invitation to work together and build solutions for whatever new challenges lie ahead.”
Step 1. Start reskilling from within
According to Gallup, only 1 in 10 people possess ‘innate management traits’. Though many may come close in terms of the requisite skills — seldom do people have the combination to lead a team to greatness. “Now is the time to distinguish great managers from the rest by fixing the soft skills gap”, Talentsoft add. “A true leader is in charge of unlocking the full potential of their employees and teams. Especially in a context like the one we find ourselves in today.”
“A true leader is in charge of unlocking the full potential of their employees and teams.”
That’s why organisations must do everything in their power to identify proficient and authentic leaders from within. “Imagine how you could transform your organisation once you’ve identified those leaders”, the e-book adds. “Reskilling alone will help you save on the costs of hiring new managers. Automated HR tools support identifying ideal candidates based on an exact set of skills and experience markings.”
Step 2. Double down on soft skills
After identifying those that can be in charge, organisations must make enough of an effort to teach and support them to double-down on soft-skills. According to a Gartner survey among leadership and talent development managers, 84% say that by 2029, soft competencies would be of top importance in defining ‘good managers’.
“The future leaves no room nor time for managers who can’t understand the individual and its independent needs and struggles. Managers need to see their people as people.”
With professional and personal lives blurred amid the pandemic, drawing lines between work duties and private life became one of the largest issues at hand for employees. “The future leaves no room nor time for managers who can’t understand the individual and its independent needs and struggles. Managers need to see their people as people.”
Step 3. Support ongoing education
“When creating successful manager training programs, ask yourself if the new information will be useful when managing real-life projects”, Talentsoft say. “Turn to your own employees’ feedback to spot team pain points. Training itself is a large professional goal. Other targets to keep in mind are: improving their active listening skills, supporting transparency, or offering actionable feedback.”
You’ll want to support ongoing education but avoid rushing managers into taking duties they’re not confident with.”
Moreover, the process of learning can be a daunting task for some, as more information comes in faster and to a greater extent than ever before. Talentsoft advises to organise the learning process according to priorities, goals and every person’s own pace. “In a fast-paced world, you’ll instead want to support ongoing education but avoid rushing managers into taking duties they’re not confident with”, they conclude.