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2020 has been a tumultuous year. One that has reset the environment for businesses around the world. The COVID-19 Crisis has given businesses the possibility to reimagine work. We have the potential to take the next adventure, creating opportunity from crisis – a challenge that Russell Evans has called “both exciting and terrifying”.
At the forefront of this challenge will be leadership. It is already becoming clear that, as the business environment goes through a period of revolution, leaders will need to reimagine and revolutionise how they lead. The introverts in your organisation may become its strongest leaders.
According to McKinsey & Company, organisations in the post-pandemic world will develop along three dimensions:
Before the COVID-19 Crisis, no one could have anticipated the speed at which organisations and their employees could adapt to a remote work environment. Many people have found they prefer working from home. Many businesses have found that the productivity of their employees has increased.
An Institute of Directors’ survey suggests that 74% of UK companies plan to maintain the increases in working from home. Deloitte has recently announced that it will permanently close four UK offices in favour of remote working arrangements.
Analysis of the Global Work from Home Experience Survey concludes that between 25% and 30% of the workforce will be working from home more than one day each week by the end of 2021. That’s up from about 3.6% today.
While the rapid closure of economies forced companies to move as much of their operations to remote working as swiftly as they could, in the future it is, perhaps, the technology that has been employed that will be seen to be the biggest disruptor to the business environment.
Overnight, the need to go remote has created a sustainable infrastructure to support this new working model – and working from home has become an acceptable practice.
Though there are exceptions, the traditional leader is at ease in group situations. They are naturally extrovert, incredibly confident, and happy to make decisions for their team. Extroverts are energised by groups. They are good at engaging people in groups, developing teams that work closely together, and motivating people to work toward collective goals.
But in the new normal, will this portrait of the ideal leader need to be modified?
As businesses evolve into either fully remote or on-premises/remote workforce hybrids, the art of leadership will evolve. It may be that introverts become the more effective leaders, more adept at connecting one-to-one, less easily distracted, and more analytical in nature.
In their research paper titled ‘The Hidden Advantages of Quiet Bosses’ , Grant, Gino, and Hoffman conclude that ‘in a dynamic, unpredictable environment introverts are often more effective leaders’. So, what qualities do introverts bring to the leadership paradigm?
They may not be the best at directing in group environments, but introverts tend to develop more meaningful relationships with individuals. This could prove decisive in teams in which members are working remotely and rarely (if ever) meet in-person.
While it sounds counterintuitive, a less ambitious leader could be what your new operating model requires. They are driven by the development of their team and its productivity, more than the development of their own career.
This personality trait serves teams well, with the leader more able to influence performance and encourage learning and development of their people.
Instead of being energised by external factors, introverts are more likely to get their motivation from within themselves. They suffer less from distractions, can tune out the noise surrounding them, and concentrate on improving productivity and quality of performance.
Introverts are less likely to make ‘gut instinct’ decisions. They are wired to analyse, question, and reflect before deciding. While speed of action is imperative in the fast-moving business environment, a hastily-made decision can implode on its owner and cause irrevocable damage.
The COVID-19 Crisis has accelerated the move toward remote working. It has embedded new technologies as standard resource in many organisations, and these are likely to consider how AI and machine learning could benefit them as businesses become more agile.
Talent acquisition is likely to be global, and leaders will need the skillsets to encourage innovation, collaboration, and agility, in a culture that gears highly toward productivity and self-development.
The leaders of tomorrow may not be found inside your organisation. As remote working allows talent acquisition from a global workforce, you may find leaders from all four corners of the globe. They will be more focused on creating and achieving team goals than personal promotion, developing close professional relationships with their people, encouraging them to learn, and thus creating more autonomous teams in which leadership qualities are demonstrated by all.
Contact Primeast to learn how our Scaling Talent portfolio can help your organisation develop high-performing teams. And how Prime Leadership can develop your leaders of tomorrow today.
Building Trust in Remote Teams is one of Primeast's Scaling Talent workshops, a portfolio of flexible, modular training programmes designed to develop skills and talent across organisations.
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