The boundaries of professional and personal interactions between executives and their employees was blurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The “New Normal” post-pandemic workplace represents a new reality requiring new executive skills. The World Economic Forum reports that the role of the executive has gone through a radical transformation.
The new world is all about multiple disruptions and a changed vision of the architecture of our lives. As we venture back into the new organizational universe, we must assess the skills needed to lead that go beyond Emotional Intelligence, adaptability, and resilience. Fortunately, these skills can be developed through an executive coaching process.
Top 5 Skills Needed for the New Normal Workplace
Empathy is understanding how others feel and being compassionate toward them. It involves perceiving the feelings of others and trying to understand why they feel that way and how we as leaders can be helpful to them. Executive coaching for the “new normal workplace” should focus on developing empathetic skills such as gaining trust by asking empathetic questions, listening skills, and being willing to share personal reflections. Being an empathetic leader involves a change in mindset that enables a leader to see through the eyes of the people they lead. Neuroscience research shows that due to our brains’ plasticity, empathy can be developed through a coaching process.
Vulnerability is exemplified by leaders who can admit mistakes, are willing to listen to others for advice, and who dos not feel compelled to be the first to answer or come up with an idea. “The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome” according to Brene Brown. More than 18,000,000 viewers have learned from her Ted Talk on the Power of Vulnerability. Coaching programs that promote vulnerable leadership skills have become important tools in the evolving leader’s tool kit.
- Exposure to Differences
Often we find that leaders live and work in a bubble that shape their views. They may be surrounded by people who hold similar world views and similar unconscious biases. An effective executive coaching program recognizes the limitations of personal and professional goals when leaders get stuck in a “group think” minefield. A strong executive coaching program should challenge leaders to adopt a mindset that welcomes exposure to new ideas, people, and groups to move them to think outside the box beyond their own worldviews to try to understand those views held by other people. This program of exposure can be done through: readings, guided discussions, focus groups, visits to unfamiliar settings and cultures, and executive coaches who know how to play a multicultural “devil’s advocate” by presenting alternative views or responses.
- Leading with a Global Mindset
The pandemic resulted in reduced global activities and interpersonal interactions. Leaders in this new reality must take deliberate steps to learn about other cultures and how to lead globally and locally. They must be able to anticipate the cultural differences found around the globe so they can see the same situation from multiple perspectives simultaneously. Coaching programs in this area can include meetings or Webinars with representatives of other cultures. We recently were asked to provide coaching for a new VP of Sales for Latin America, who had never visited Latin America due to COVID-19. We arranged cultural briefings on each of the key countries of importance to the client’s needs. Once travel was permitted, we arranged in-person follow-up sessions so the executive could have trusted contacts in each country.
- Servant Leadership
Succeeding as an executive in today’s work world requires relinquishing control that leads to flatter, less hierarchical organizations where power is more diffused across the company. Demonstrating partnerships with workers is more important than displays of power. Today’s leaders need to learn how to get employee buy-in or else they will go where they think they have more control over the consequences of their work. Leaders must be more transparent about finances and social and environmental responsibilities. Actions that promote or reduce the organization’s diversity and inclusion are on public display; social media leaves no stone unturned. Done right, executive coaching for leaders and managers should provide the tools that propel the leader to optimize a culture of belonging. Undoubtedly, employees will respond positively when they can trust and sense the new shifts in the workplace—a win for the company, the employee, and the leader.
If you have questions, experiences, or cases about executive coaching for the new normal, please send them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org