Eduardo Suárez Battán
How are you doing?
This is the question with which many leaders initiate a dialogue carried out in digital form with their collaborators. This new way of working remotely made us rethink and relearn how to connect with teams. It is a new challenge that adds to the challenges that leaders had before the pandemic to be closer and more collaborative, leaving the old practice of the boss who gave orders and supervised.
Online interaction is difficult since you do not have the other interlocutor in front of you, you cannot “feel” the other completely and we are not in the same place either, which implies having different and unknown impacts on each interlocutor. What if the cat or dog goes under the table? What happens if the little son enters the place of interaction or if the delivery man rings the bell or if a WhatsApp comes from someone close? Leaders must be more perceptive, observe more every detail, listen much more and without prejudice. That is why we say that it is key to start with the question "How are you doing?", Which invites a more informal, more humane dialogue and lowers the natural defenses that humans put in a new situation (and more so if it is the boss).
That is why we insist that there are several pillars that make up the agility of a modern executive and two of them are key in this remote relationship with employees. The first is the "interaction" pillar that needs to be further developed in this new situation where there will be a greater connection between leaders and employees through digital media. Without going too far, in addition to the face-to-face. The other way of communicating was until not long ago, the fixed telephone for the hour to switch to any device that allows omnichannel and visual communication. This requires increasing our ability to listen, avoiding having biases or paradigms that block or generate misinterpretations. It is not easy to say that I listen carefully since it is a round trip and it requires many times also to analyze what the other wants to say. You have to seek and achieve empathy, open up to other ideas and comments that can enrich the dialogue, ask a lot, and get everyone present to participate.
The second pillar of agility that we want to mention is that of leadership. Due to the length of the pandemic, we already have many executives who have entered their new companies in recent months and have been navigating the day-to-day of leadership remotely through platforms such as Zoom and Teams. They have guided their collaborators through this difficult period by setting a course that their company must follow and all through a screen. The most noticeable, and almost unthinkable until recently, is that not only have they managed remotely, but they have not met a single collaborator in person and probably will not do so for several more months. There are already many who have become aware that this type of leadership must be effective because it may be the new way of working that will be definitive in the near future (at least in many technology-related companies).
Clearly we are facing a new, more agile leadership that requires to be a facilitator of the tasks of your team, to be able to manage it through the fulfillment of objectives, to add diversity, to incorporate remote talent where it is and ensure that they continue to choose the company it represents. . Be an example, achieve trust and respect for your collaborators all through a screen. Being able to reach and understand others through a “glass” requires changing and adapting your leadership styles that will never be the same again.
Ultimately, the pandemic will leave a mark that there is a new way of leading and interacting in companies. Remember that agility, in general, can be defined as a “mindset”, that is, a way of being that becomes a way of doing and interacting.
Eduardo Suárez Battán
The New World of Work: A Product of the Pandemic or of Finance?
Agility and Change Management