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Leadership in a Hybrid Business Environment: Is Your Style Effective?

Are You Operating in a Hybrid Model?

Odds would suggest some portion of your workforce is operating from a remote location, either at home or elsewhere in the country. This represents an opportunity to review and adjust your leadership techniques.

I’m reminded of some of the preparation I underwent before taking command of my first ship. It takes years to develop the technical chops and operational perspective required to command a ship. Some of it comes through experience in a variety of situations. Other elements of preparation come from school house training conducted by subject matter experts, then tested and practiced in various training environments and scenarios.

When US Navy ship captains prepare for their command tours, they are encouraged to write a command philosophy.  Specific philosophies vary depending on the individual, but developing the philosophy follows similar patterns.

First, the captain will reflect on their personal values, experiences, and leadership style—the proverbial, first, know thyself. They will then consider the mission of their ship and the expectations of their superiors, peers, and subordinates.

The command philosophy typically includes a statement of purpose, leadership philosophy, expectations for their crew, and priorities for achieving the ship’s mission. They may also include specific guidance on areas such as safety, professionalism, and accountability.

The command philosophy is not only a written document but also a living expression of the captain’s leadership. It is shared with the crew and serves as a guiding document for the ship’s operations.

This document is often no more than a single page. Its simplicity in style is what makes it so understandable to sailors, their families, and the ever-present new arrival on board.

One school that future captains attend en route to command is the Command Leadership School. One might question why it is necessary at this stage of a professional career to now attend leadership school?  Well, it is as much about the reflection, and self-reflection, required to be an outstanding leader. The school offers time and a methodology to synthesize what the prospective captain has learned along the way.

Three pillars to consider when evaluating your own approach to leadership.

1. Personal Leadership: This pillar focuses on the development of personal attributes and behaviors that are essential for effective leadership. This includes self-awareness, emotional intelligence, resilience, ethics, and character development.

2. Organizational Leadership: This pillar focuses on the development of leadership skills and strategies that are necessary for leading and managing teams and organizations. This includes communication, decision-making, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and team building.

3. Operational Leadership: This pillar focuses on the development of leadership skills and knowledge that are essential for success in the operational environment. This includes risk management, situational awareness, operational planning, and execution.

Taken together, these pillars can underpin a comprehensive leadership perspective. The business world often lacks a recognizable structure to develop leaders and to subsequently communicate most effectively. 

With distributed workforces now normalized, it’s a good time to revisit your own leadership style. Is it still effective? Have you even thought about how your style might need to be updated?

Here are three tips for communicating effectively within a hybrid business environment:

1. Set clear communication expectations: Clear communication expectations ensure that all team members are aware of how and when they can communicate with each other. This includes guidelines on preferred communication channels, response times, and availability. Clear communication expectations can help reduce misunderstandings and confusion.

2. Leverage technology tools:  It is important to leverage these tools well to ensure that communication is efficient and effective. For example, using tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Confluence, Slack, or Mattermost can help enhance communication and collaboration among team members who are working remotely.

3. Foster a culture of inclusivity: This will ensure that all team members feel valued and heard. This includes actively seeking input and feedback from team members who are working remotely, providing opportunities for team members to collaborate and build relationships, and ensuring that everyone has access to the same information and resources. By fostering a culture of inclusivity, teams can work together more effectively, regardless of their location.

If your style is working, congratulations. But don’t get too comfortable. Companies listed on the “Best Companies to Work For” as recently as last year are struggling with these concepts today.

Are you sure your style doesn’t need a tune-up?

I’m at AUVSI in Denver this week. I’ll be in the Florida panhandle next week. After that, I’ll be in the headquarters for two straight weeks!  Where will I see you?

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