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With the pandemic accelerating the switch to digital and continuing to impact workplace set-ups, the range of situations that today’s senior managers face is broadening.

A significant shift in leadership style has been the move away from micromanagement and siloed working to an environment of facilitation and empowerment. A recent article for Harvard Business Review stated that today’s leaders must excel across “a wide set of paradoxical characteristics” and become what they describe as “strategic executors”, “tech-savvy humanists”, “humble heroes”, and “traditioned innovators”.

Here, we explore some of the vital skills and attributes managers need to excel in our transformed world of work.

 

Agility

Over the last two years, collaboration between employees at all levels has been vital as everyone worked towards a shared goal – survival. At the same time, teams were given greater freedom to think and operate autonomously thanks to remote working practices. Therefore, an agile leadership style has become even more crucial in helping businesses navigate and thrive through challenging times.

Agile leadership is characterised by the ability to remain calm in the face of pressure and react to circumstances quickly and effectively. It also means being open to innovation and finding ways to inspire and directly involve employees in achieving the company’s goals. This prioritising of people over processes and seeing change as adding value has enabled organisations to flourish, even during a crisis.

Senior leaders and managers need to continue with this agile and adaptable approach, applying flexible thinking with robust forward planning. It requires putting multiple contingency plans in place that enable businesses to continue adapting and evolving in real-time while being ready to pivot at any given moment.

 

Communication

Excellent communication skills have always been a prerequisite for leaders. However, in an era where decision-making is happening faster, and teams are required to change direction, senior managers must be clear, authentic and regular communicators.

An agile approach requires employees to frequently adapt the way they work, which places emphasis on managers to help ease the pain of change and provide the right support. Teams want leaders who will be honest with them and even possess the vulnerability to admit when they don’t have all the answers or that something hasn’t gone according to plan.

There’s also the matter of hybrid working to contend with. The responsibility falls to managers to not only ensure that levels of productivity remain high, but that transparent and consistent lines of communication are maintained so that every team member feels included and their contributions valued.

Critical thinking A 2020 report from the World Economic Forum revealed that senior executives view critical thinking and analysis as the skills most likely to increase in importance between now and 2025. Critical thinking is crucial for todays leaders, especially considering that thinking can often be marred by misperception, bias, and preconception.

By definition, critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It’s the ability to understand logical relationships between ideas, recognise the importance of argument, apply creativity and identify mistakes in reasoning to make the right decisions.

No one could have predicted the pandemic’s unique challenges that the world of work arose from it. Emerging from an extended period of unpredictability has highlighted the need to routinely question our thought patterns and assumptions. Leaders who can apply critical thinking will be able to effectively explore every potential leadership problem from every angle, placing them in a better position to devise the most appropriate solutions.

Resilience In a previous post, we discussed why an organisation’s ability to hire resilient individuals, i.e. those able to overcome challenges and recover from setbacks, is more important than ever. Even the most effective leaders have encountered setbacks in their careers, and personal resilience is key to overcoming these disappointments and failures.

The turbulence faced by many organisations over the last two years has highlighted the need for leaders to function effectively when placed under pressure. Resilience can be measured in a person’s ability to persevere through tough times, keep a cool head, help people manage disruptive changes and seamlessly adapt to challenges. A key element of resilience is the ability to view failure as a temporary setback and recognise the opportunities that can arise from it.

 

Do you have the skills you need?

Finding managers and leaders who possess the skills and attributes you need to lead your workforce to success requires the right assessment tools and techniques. Omni’s Transformative Leader Assessment enables you to identify the best leadership talent for your organisation, allowing you to make accurate, objective hiring and promotion decisions, or provide targeted developmental support based on the specific strengths, style and potential areas for development of your leaders. .

For information on how Omni can assist you in hiring the right management talent and our Assessment Services, contact James Crichton, Head of Assessment, on james.crichton@omnirms.com.