By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Enterprises have been talking about VUCA for years. VUCA, an acronym for the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous world of today, seems to be on steroids now with disruption and a rapidly evolving business environment. The pandemic has contributed further to this VUCA environment, leading us into the future of work, where the lines dividing the digital and the physical are blurred. 

As the workforce and the workplace digitally transform, leadership models have to evolve as well, to remain effective and relevant in this new world. In today’s complex and challenging environment, leaders not only have to make sound business decisions that increase profitability, but also focus deeply on how their leadership is experienced, and how they can make their key stakeholders that include the employees, customers, and investors, feel more valued.

The transition to this digital world is to drive organizational agility, adaptability and enable customer-centricity. Along with these benefits, digital transformation can deliver unforeseen risks and unanticipated costs if organizational leaders do not alter how they exert influence, power, and control. 

Successful organizational digital transformation is only complete when leaders can transform themselves, measurably. In this digitally transformed world, the new bottom line demands the leadership’s own affective digital transformation – one that places equal importance on engagement, purpose, empathy, and fairness as other parameters of data-driven agility or efficiency and productivity.

The leadership transition challenge

Given the changing times, organizations need to revamp their leadership development initiatives and make them more suited to fit this ever-evolving world. The leader’s action or inaction can significantly influence the course of a business. Yet, despite high stakes, leaders are underprepared and under-supported during the transition.

The move towards becoming impactful virtual leaders is a significant transition point for leaders of today. Navigating this transition successfully with the right tools, to lead the digital workforce can influence organizational fortunes significantly.

Research shows that while leadership transitions are important, they are hardly easy. 

Even in the good old days, leaders ranked organizational politics as a big hurdle that impacted successful transitions. 68% flounder on issues related to politics, culture, and people, while 67% of leaders wish they had moved faster to change the culture.  

The rules of engagement have changed dramatically, as has the pace of change, client and employee expectations coupled with digital progress. So much so that it makes sense to follow Marshall Goldsmith’s advice, “What got you here, won’t get you there”.

As we move deeper into VUCA and a digital world, the need for leadership transition from being a remote boss to a virtual leader is only going to increase. According to research, most leadership development programs fail, as leaders do not feel appropriately supported as new leaders. Almost 74% of leaders in the US and 83% globally feel that they are underprepared for their roles. As such, organizations need to revamp their leadership development programs to become relevant for this shape-shifting world of work.  

Managing the leadership transition to lead successfully in a digital world needs organizations to provide greater support to their leaders and move their development programs away from the usually followed ‘hands-off’ approach.

Leadership development for the digital world needs an almost complete rewiring of traditional approaches of the directive and authoritative leadership styles and has to account for the individual development needs of the leaders.

Why Peer Coaching leads the way?

Cervantes once said that “to be prepared is half the battle won”.  

Successful leadership transitions in this digital age are a marriage of both.

Digital work has different demands from leaders. To be an effective leader in this dynamic world, along with technical knowledge, leaders need to be more mindful, empathetic, resilient, impactful, and agile.

With traditional models of leadership failing to hold water to today’s relevance, developing leaders require helping them cultivate new perspectives on leadership. 

  • Organizations need to create the right channels and provide the right tools that assist leaders in identifying effective leadership styles and the blind spots in their leadership. 
  • Leaders need to adapt to the challenges that organizations face in a digital environment and go on a journey of learning to lead themselves and then translating that knowledge to lead others and forming effective collaborations.
  • Leaders need the insights and the skills to overcome the challenges of the existing leadership culture and develop the right perspectives to design the appropriate strategies that translate into impactful outcomes in a digital world.

Peer Coaching becomes the antidote to leadership inertia – an essential to thrive in a digital landscape across an organization that is no longer siloed and bureaucratic and no longer responds to the and command-and-control models. 

Peer Coaching assists in leadership transitions as it:

  • Helps leaders develop the power skills like empathy, emotional intelligence, communication, critical and strategic thinking, and self-awareness, etc.
  • Assists leaders identify and develop the traits to become adaptive leaders. 
  • Develops autonomy to be innovative while providing the guardrails to prevent chaos.
  • Identifies authentic leadership styles and develops the language to communicate their styles with impact, emphasis, and authenticity. 
  • Helps leaders become ‘complete’ leaders. Most leaders are ‘incomplete leaders’ who excel at one thing and struggle with another. Navigating through these gaps along with developing the capability to understand and communicate their unique way of leading based on experience, values, strengths, and personality; is critical to adapt in the digital world. 
  • Improves ‘sensemaking’, an essential quality for a rapidly evolving and digital work environment. Satya Nadella of Microsoft has been a sense-maker throughout his Microsoft stint. He learned this skill by frequently changing jobs. Organizations can leverage peer coaching to help their leaders develop the skills to improve sensemaking. It helps them identify and assess what additional sensemaking they need to do to stay in step with the changing market conditions, business models, workforces, and technologies.   
  • Helps digital leaders identify ways to inspire their team members for engagement and to secure buy-in. While technology connects teams, the screens can create barriers that inhibit connection. Peer coaching helps digital leaders build transparency, integrity, and empathy to evaluate strategies to overcome technological barriers and to connect with team members with authenticity.
  • Provides leaders with the support to navigate the ‘Age of Accelerations’ where change is inevitable and invariably faster. In this age, emerging as a transformational leader who inspires the workforce to enact organizational transformation needs to develop specific power skills. Peer coaching can make this transition easier and more effective by influencing behavioral shifts necessary to drive change.

Leadership development is imperative to align with the ever-evolving leadership fundamentals in the digital age.

Leadership development programs now provide crucial leadership support by providing clarity, support, and direction to help them communicate with purpose, create a compelling vision, decipher complexity with ease and energize, and inspire everyone with an inclusive vision. 

With Peer Coaching, organizations can help leaders make the necessary behavioral shifts needed to become more adaptable, handle higher pressures with ease and act with agility.

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered peer coaching platform can revamp your leadership development initiatives and help you build leaders who will help your organization thrive.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

COVID-19 accelerated our move into the Future of Work and forced organizations and leaders to transition to adapt to the new demands quickly. 

While the pandemic altered the business landscape, it also made it clear that the idea of leadership (that we had) needed transformation as well. The style of leadership that thrived with command and control must move out the door. The idea that strong leadership is shaped by strict direction and delegation and demands dutiful obedience does not fit into the new narrative. 

Read: From “Remote Boss” To “Virtual Leader” – How to Make the Transition

As the world of work continues to grapple with the disruptions to the professional space and personal lives, it is only those leaders who remain effective who have identified the shift that leadership needs. It is clear that leaders can either command or control – they cannot do both.

The Leadership Shift 

The best leaders have always believed that their role is to inspire and motivate others to act – not to dictate. By surrendering ‘control’, leaders invite people to discover their individual potential and build an ‘ownership culture’…one that goes beyond accountability and inspires people to do more than the minimum. 

True leaders do not rise to the top because they want to control or command people. If these have been motivations, then they need to revisit why they chose to become a leader in the first place. 

The pandemic disrupting the world of work and the rising dominant millennial population have made leadership and leadership styles a hot topic of conversation. Additionally, the preconceived notions of strength are no longer conducive in this new world of work. 

Leadership expert Seth Godin succinctly states that it is very uncomfortable for leaders to say, “I want to go over there, and I’m going to be responsible for getting us over there, and no one has ever been over there, and I’m not sure how to get over there, but let’s go.” 

But this needs to change simply because unconventional times need unconventional solutions as controlling, polarizing behaviors and actions disengage and alienate their workforce. 

The Vision Conundrum 

The command-and-control style of leadership leans heavily on “vision”. While vision inspires, motivates, and gives direction and hope, this enchantment with vision presents a disembodied conception of leadership – one that manages to captivate our imagination, but rarely does it have a positive effect on ourselves…think working yourself to exhaustion. 

Vision does promise us a future but makes a huge demand on our lives. So just as a vision has the power to ignite, it has the power to burn out, especially when it comes as an infallible directive. 

The limitations of leadership that remain encrusted in vision become painfully obvious in the time of crisis. Crisis tests vision. Most don’t survive. This is because when a crisis strikes, such as a natural disaster or a sudden drop in revenues, we are already motivated to move. But what leads to failure is not the clarion call to action but the flailing. What people need from leaders is more than vision. They need direction to move purposefully. 

Read: Purpose-Led Engagement for Women and Millennials

This shift to build shared purpose and lead successfully does not come from control-and-command. Instead, it comes from developing the ability to contain, interpret, and respond with reassurance. It helps the workforce reorient, refocus, and stick together by making sense of the prevailing predicament. 

Those leaders who can contain and hold mutual support ensure that work continues and eventually, a new vision emerges. Approaching this from a place of control is counterproductive as it only leads to anxiety and fragmentation – the exact opposite of the desired outcomes that we want from leadership. 

VUCA and the Leader

Organizations of all shapes and sizes now realize that to survive in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment, we need different leadership skills. Controlling leadership behaviors ensure that the distribution of leadership capabilities does not permeate across the length and breadth of the organization. 

As we move into remote work, leaders need to help employees gain more agency by enabling digital adhocracies that rely on individual initiative. This helps employees across the board to become more independent and harness skills that help them make decisions that are aligned with corporate culture, values, and strategy.

The Dawn of New Leadership 

Much like how chefs balance multiple ingredients to achieve a delectable balance of flavors and create masterful meals, leadership skills need to balance humanity and technology. This means that leaders will have to embrace technology to enable work and improve the organization, their job role now demands them to provide employees with a sense of purpose. They need now move away from this old way of thinking that considers control as strength and march towards a mindset of service towards their internal and external customers. 

Leaders today and in the future will have to be explorers who are willing to embrace the unknown, are open to new ideas, and can change course as the world around them evolves. Just like explorers of the past who learned continuously to quench their curiosity, leaders must learn to be perpetually curious and open to dialogue and discovery. 

Peer Coaching to Drive Change 

While leaders need to build technical dexterity, what is even more essential is to increase their psychological capital. 

Leaders need to develop skills such as empathy and have an extremely high emotional quotient to lead effectively in this age of hybrid work. They need to identify ways to transition to virtual leaders from remote bosses. 

All these skills need a systemic shift in thinking patterns and an unlearning of learned behaviors that come with social conditioning and mindsets. Organizations cannot drive these shifts by organizing annual leadership retreats or day/week-long training sessions. These shifts need a behavioral change, one that comes from peer coaching, since it contextually and continuously reaffirms the right actions, provides timely feedback, and is powered by relevance. 

With peer coaching, leaders can develop the right attitudes that help them power through setbacks and negativity with a positive attitude and approach. Peer coaching helps leaders identify the reasons why they need to leave their ego at the door and helps them understand why they need to subjugate their personal agendas for the greater good of the organization. For this, leaders need to build authenticity, self-awareness, and honesty which can be achieved with peer coaching. 

In Conclusion 

Peer coaching helps leaders realize that leadership is not a solo sport but a team effort. It is only by releasing control, delegating effectively, and learning the language of the workforce that employees will join them in supporting their vision and help move their strategy forward. Releasing control can be difficult, but with the right interventions and the right information presented through peer coaching, achieving this no longer remains a pipedream.

Connect with our team of experts to develop a robust peer coaching strategy using a powerful AI-driven peer coaching platform and transform leadership development in your organization. 

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Attractive as it might sound; remote working has led to collective burnout among employees.

Along with the fear of the pandemic, the loss of connection with colleagues, the fear of losing jobs, the economic downturn, and the unstable socio-economic environment has added to the employees’ stress. Add that to the blurring lines between personal and professional lives and the pressure of proving productivity, and we have a perfect recipe for an upcoming disaster.

According to a survey by FlexJobs and Mental Health America, 75% of employees are experiencing burnout at work. 40% are specifically feeling it during the pandemic.

What employees need right now is not a manager who is focused solely on getting work done.

They need a leader who will reassure them and instill confidence in them that they can tide over these uncertain times.

What organizations need right now is a standout leader who will not just innovate but also inspire employees by being compassionate and leading from the front.

Let’s look at some qualities that a standout leader must possess. 

How to Be a Standout Leader in Times of Uncertainty

Be a mentor instead of a manager

The uncertain scenario is likely to make employees anxious. They might have several questions about the future of their career, the right path to achieve career goals, how to grow in the organization, etc. They need a reliable person who has the experience and has weathered several ups and downs in the industry to give sound and unbiased advice. They need a mentor who will understand their aspirations and coach on how to achieve them. While thinking about productivity and company goals, a standout leader focuses on helping employees achieve their goals. A highly motivated employee will automatically be able to achieve company goals too. 

Read: Train Managers to Become Better Coaches

Adopt an infinite mindset

Author Simon Sinek first professed the theory of infinite mindset. In his book called ‘The Infinite Game’, Sinek discusses two types of mindsets – the finite mindset and the infinite mindset. The finite mindset is apt for games like chess and football, where the rules are set, and the endpoint is clear. There is a clear distinction between winners and losers. But in the business world, leaders need to have an infinite mindset. That’s because the rules will change depending upon the environment, there will be no endpoints, and there is no winner or loser. The business is just ahead or behind in the competition. An infinite mindset will help organizations to build a sustainable business and constantly innovate to thrive in the future. In the current times, that’s what is expected from a standout leader. 

Encourage employees to upskill and future-proof themselves

Organizations have started to realize the importance of digital transformation and are increasingly using automation and other next-gen technologies to increase accuracy and productivity and to decrease overhead expenses. A standout leader will predict this change and plan ways to future-proof the employees. They understand that an employee can thrive only if they upskill themselves. They will have one-to-one discussions to understand the strength and limitations of the employees and design a personalized training map to ensure that they are updated with the latest know-how of the industry. 

Read: The Missing Piece in Reskilling Initiatives 

Improve employee engagement through personalized conversation

The absence of physical connection and water-cooler moments has led to low morale among employees. It’s important to engage employees, so they feel valued and contribute actively to the growth of the organization. 

Highly engaged employees are 480% more likely to stay committed to the organization. 

True leaders will find ways to engage actively with employees. They will not see it as a drill. They will have a 1:1 personalized, two-way conversation with employees to understand their aspirations, goals, roadblocks, and coach them on ways to achieve it. They will leverage technology to track and measure the outcome of coaching. 

Make employees feel safe by boosting their confidence

Employees are understandably worried about what lies ahead for them in the future. It is up to  leaders to step in and make employees feel safe. They will listen to the concerns and not dismiss them as irrational fears. Through personalized coaching and continuous communication, they will boost the employees’ confidence and make them feel safe at the workplace. 

Be empathetic to the needs of employees

Apart from being an employee, a person also dons multiple hats such as that of a parent or a caregiver. With the lines between work and family time blurring and employees suffering from burnout, it’s time for leaders to understand the challenges that employees face while working remotely and find ways to support them through tough times. They will lend them a patient hearing to ensure that they feel heard and valued in the organization. 

Conclusion

It’s been more than several months since the pandemic hit the world. Employees are quickly adapting to the new normal. As they traverse through the challenges of working from home and fighting the fears of the pandemic and financial losses, leaders have to create innovative solutions to prevent burnout and engage employees. 

Solutions like NumlyEngage are designed to help leaders leverage the power of coaching to enhance employee engagement and productivity, and reduce attrition!

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

The climate of change influencing global markets continues to put pressure on organizations to improve succession planning. They need to constantly build a strong pipeline of leaders to ensure continued business success. We can credit the rise of leadership development and leadership nurturing programs to this need. 

However, developing a leadership pipeline with people with the necessary hard and power skills has been an uphill battle for most. Day-long or week-long training programs on leadership development are not delivering the intended results. This is primarily because ‘leadership’ is not one skill. It is a set of multiple skills, most of which demand a behavioral change. 

Read: Is Your Leadership Development Initiative Not Working? Here Is How To Fix It

Behavioral change can only be achieved with constant reiteration and internalization. Given human disposition, even the most driven and talented employee will find it hard to remain motivated enough to drive and implement a change unless there is a shift in behavior. 

Managers are valuable cogs in the wheel of organizations looking at developing their leadership pipeline. While identifying high-potential employees is a part of the manager’s purview, making sure that the talent is nurtured and pushed in the right direction is also an essential part of this job role. The manager is the bridge that connects the organization to the employee and, hence, has an important role to play in developing leaders for tomorrow. 

Here are a few compelling reasons why you need to train managers to become better coaches if your organization wants a strong pipeline of leaders to leverage in the future. 

Leadership has to be built at every level

While there are few who move into the leadership pipeline, organizations now have to work towards developing a ‘leadership mindset’ across the spectrum of employees. A leadership mindset is growth-oriented, it focuses on being solution-driven, it is steeped in ownership and critical thinking. 

These are qualities and skills that help every employee do their job better and become more outcome-driven and productive. These skills, or the lack of it, have to be identified, honed and nurtured to develop the capable leaders of tomorrow. Since managers are the ones closest to their teams, they need to be trained to coach their teams to help the teams develop these skills. 

Coach to drive performance 

A leadership pipeline can only be called a strong and mature one when it includes people who have emotional intelligence and technical intellect. Managers are the best people to identify which team member lacks in which aspect and are well aware of areas that need development.

The team’s performance is one of the primary responsibilities of a manager. In this world of rapid change, managers have to inspire their teams to become performance-driven, and not instruct them. They can communicate in the language that inspires to maximize team performance. However, most managers admit that they don’t coach their teams and stick to disseminating technical and functional skills and only review performance because they don’t know how to coach! 

When managers become better coaches, they can proactively help their team members identify areas of improvement and ensure employees track and achieve their goals proactively.

Goodbye surprises and awkward conversations

Coaching managers to develop stronger teams and individuals helps them understand the strength of coaching. Once they learn and understand how coaching helps them to drive their team, they can identify and implement all the changes and strategies needed to develop a high-performance team. 

Coaching managers also leads to better team engagement, fewer awkward conversations, and no surprises when it comes to performance management. When managers themselves become coaches, they know how to guide individual team members proactively along their career paths by providing contextual, unbiased, and regular feedback. 

They also become more capable of identifying issues early and help their teams become better problem-solvers. They can help their team members be more agile and adaptive towards change and also become more innovative. 

Establish the difference between managing and micromanaging 

Managers have to be on top of everything and make sure that their teams meet their goals and targets. However, often managers end up micromanaging everything, thereby removing individual autonomy and freedom from the equation. The result is a team that is highly dependent on instruction and is unable to make the right decisions. When managers micromanage, they send out a clear message that the team members cannot be trusted. Is it then a surprise that members of such a team do not qualify to be future leaders?

With coaching, managers can understand the subtle difference between managing and micromanaging. It helps them identify the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and gives them the tools they need to bridge these gaps most appropriately. 

Instead of instructing, managers then enable a growth mindset within their team members, which helps the latter believe that failures are learning opportunities and obstacles are opportunities in disguise. 

Finally, given the rise of the millennials and Gen Z as the dominant demographic in the workforce demands a shift in the way managers lead their teams. Understanding the motivations of this workforce and identifying the best ways to engage with them is essential. For example, this demographic wants managers to be their sounding board for their ideas. They also want to devote time discussing new ways of working and evaluating how they will progress to the leadership path. It thus becomes essential to coach managers to connect with this demographic in meaningful ways so that they can move away from the old method of ‘managing by instruction’ to ‘managing by inspiring’. 

By coaching managers, organizations make leadership development a continuous process. Consequently, they can have an army of qualified, well-adjusted, and high-potential employees constituting their leadership pipeline. 

Get a live demo to discover how NumlyEngage™ can help you coach your managers better and improve employee engagement, performance, and productivity by up to 400%!

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Remote working is no longer the ‘new’ normal. It is just normal now. 

Hallway conversations, informal lunches, and break sessions, pop-in status reports are on hold for an indefinite time. COVID-19 has ushered us firmly into the age of remote working, where even the most traditional organizations had to adopt this trend.  

With the rules of engagement witnessing an overhaul, HR teams, and organization leaders are grappling with the challenge of keeping these newly remote teams engaged – especially since the individuals making up these teams have their own culture and personality. 

There has been a dramatic shift in the manner in which organizations are operating today, making engagement a difficult game to win. While these unprecedented times continue to impact the workplace and the workforce, organizations have to think of creative ways to make this distanced working environment more engaging so that productivity and employee happiness are not at opposing ends. 

Coaching can become a venerable tool in the HR and leadership arsenal to keep employees engaged. Here is a look at why this is so.

Maximize talent despite the distance 

Remote working is different and demands a different way of leading. Organizations thus have to look at how to help their employees navigate this new normal by guiding them on maintaining a work-life balance while delivering maximum productivity. 

Coaching them to adopt a flexible schedule, develop a flexible mindset, and maintain self-discipline in the absence of constant monitoring are important to drive productivity. Helping them become more goal-oriented, detail-driven with elevated accountability and ownership levels also drive productivity and engagement. By coaching effective prioritization skills and helping employees develop a ‘can-do’ attitude, organizations can keep employees effectively engaged while maximizing the talent despite the distance. 

Guide for growth 

Since millennials are the primary demographic in most organizations, it is imperative to remember that growth is a key engagement driver for these employees. In this remote working environment, it is natural for employees to be concerned about their growth within the organization.

Apart from identifying and providing coaching to meet the employees’ technical skill requirements, organizations also have to identify the power skills gaps by using data from assessments such as 16 Personality factor Tests and Behavioral Skills assessments. Coaching employees on these skills will tangibly impact their professional career and help them become high-potential employees. It helps in driving employee engagement by demonstrating investment and interest in employee growth. 

Drive leadership development 

Remote working or not, organizations have to work continuously to drive leadership development in the workplace to keep employees engaged. Whether it is to identify next-generation leaders or identify high-potential employees, a focus on leadership development also helps in keeping employees engaged, especially in the world of remote work. 

Coaching can play a significant role as an enabler of engagement by helping remote employees understand how to navigate complex relationships, establish greater credibility, cultivate strategic thinking, and develop the capacity to exert influence on decision-making.

In the absence of physical interactions, leadership development coaching guides employees on building and leveraging strategic networks and drive authentic engagement needed to proceed in their careers. 

Read: Critical Leadership Skills that High-Potential Women Leaders Should Be Groomed On

Bridge the skills gap 

Despite the world of work going remote, organizations cannot put a pause on their upskilling and reskilling initiatives. However, while technical training programs help in closing the skills gaps, organizations also have to focus on bridging the power skills gap. Skills like communication, collaboration and influence, problem-solving, innovation and execution, strategic thinking, and the like are essential to driving productivity and engagement. 

Developing a growth mindset is also a prized skill that organizations are looking for to increase the employees’ mental tenacity, especially as the world of work becomes increasingly complex and competitive.

Read: What Can Organizations Do to Develop an Entrepreneurial Growth Mindset Amongst Employees?

Coaching plays a big role in navigating the hard skills and power skills conundrum. Owing to its continuous nature, coaching outcomes drive behavioral change, which helps employees understand the organization’s investment in their growth story. This then becomes a powerful driver of engagement since enablement here drives engagement. 

Empower managers to drive successful teams 

The time to walk the ‘lead by example’ talk is now. In this new world of remote working, the eyes of the employees are fixed on managers and leaders. Managers need to be coached on how to identify the individual talents of individual team members. They also have to discover how to interact with and guide less-experienced employees best through challenging work situations and help them progress along their career paths. Many managers are also leading remote teams for the first time and need coaching on how to best guide their teams for success. 

The absence of physical interactions also means that managers and leaders now have to become clearer in their communication skills and build skills to recognize effort, anticipate team reactions, assess team confidence, appreciate employees, and provide effective feedback. Along with this, managers also have to coach their teams for success and learn how to develop their emotional intelligence to keep team motivation and engagement high. 

Read: How Has the Role of Leadership Changed with COVID-19?

Managers can rely on effective coaching to help them navigate the new challenges and implement the behavioral changes to drive highly successful teams. 

The role of coaching is becoming increasingly important to keep employees happy, engaged, and productive in these challenging times. 

Running and working in remote teams requires specific skillsets and new attitudes so that productivity and engagement levels remain consistently high. It is perhaps time to look towards AI-powered technology and rich analytics to drive highly relevant and contextual coaching programs and help employees deliver their best performance and remain engaged. Consistently.