The last year has seen changes in businesses around the world in ways we couldn’t have foreseen. The high street will look very different when the world reopens, what was once a normal daily commute for many may now be a thing of the past and whilst there have sadly been many business closures, many other organisations have seen significant growth and investment.
Since the start of lockdown, I’ve remained optimistic and hopeful that changes in the world of work that leaders once thought were impossible, could in fact be here to stay. And in doing so, we create People First workplaces where our people are much more than just numbers on a spreadsheet, but the lifeline of our businesses.
Now more than ever, the leaders who put their people first, will be the ones who thrive as we enter into a new look and new shape future. Our people will be looking to maintain a greater life balance whilst still delivering and progressing in their roles and with that, we need a new kind of leader.
For decades, we’ve been spending billions of pounds each year on leadership and management training, and yet many of these programmes just teach leaders how to carry out tasks. Little is delivered on what it really means to be a leader in the true sense of the word and the importance of vulnerability, emotional intelligence, active listening and the importance of creating mutual trust and respect.
The leadership frameworks of old, the command and control type of leading and the assumption that leading is about having power over people instead of empowering people, are things of the past. With the increasing rise of holacracy and sociocracy, our people want more of a say in when and how they work. Our people want a purpose to their role, they want to add value and be valued and this is a mile away from the company values that we have painted on our walls and covering our literature when what we say on the tin isn’t actually what our people get.
We need leaders with courage. We need leaders who create cultures where psychological safety is paramount to the culture of the organisation. Where political gameplaying and point-scoring are called out as egotistical and not best for the people in our employ. We need leaders who will do the right thing instead of always having to be right. We need leaders who are passionate, who demonstrate integrity and who truly care for everyone in the business. In short, we need leaders who understand who they are at the core and in understanding themselves, create a safe space to work for others.
There is no longer a place for a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to engaging, leading and managing our people.
As we start to consider what the future of work will look like, we need to consider what is best for our people, not in considering what our competitors are doing for their people. Gone are the days of assuming that there are best practice models and frameworks that work for everyone.
Our USP for our people should be just that.
Our people should want to work with us because what we offer them is unique for them. We don’t need a copy and paste approach to people management, we need to manage and lead our people in a way that benefits them and that has a positive impact on our bottom line and this starts with listening to what they really want and need.
The future of work is in our hands and as leaders, we need to embrace this as an opportunity to make our mark, be an employer of choice and truly put our people first.
With over 20 years in the HR, OD and Leadership space, Kelly champions new ways of working including a one-page 'staff handbook’, the four-day working week and hasn’t completed an annual performance review since 2008.
She leads and coaches with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can all love our roles, find balance in our lives and so that we can change the world of work for the better.