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 Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Most employees promoted to the role of the manager are the ones who are the star performers and high-potential employees

However, assuming that individuals who are great at their job will be equally great managers is pushing the luck. This is because the skills needed to become a great manager are vastly different from those needed to succeed as an individual contributor. 

It is hardly a surprise that great, star employees often struggle as new managers. In fact, statistics reveal that six out of ten managers said the challenges associated with managing this career transition come second only to dealing with divorce! And with dispersed teams and remote working becoming the new normal, the challenges for new managers have got more complicated. 

Here are seven challenges that new managers need to find solutions to navigate this new world of work without losing their minds.

Read: Common Mistakes Managers Make While Coaching Their Teams

Manage ‘transition anxiety’

The ‘new manager’ story is quite familiar. Mostly, employees work hard to get promoted to the role of the manager. And while the new managers are excited about their new roles, the reality hits home – that they are essentially alone, they are unsure of what is really expected of them, and they have to navigate this new realm of work by building new connections (mostly without the support of their trusted group of peers). 

Many new managers, especially technical managers, end up battling these feelings, or “transition anxiety” mainly because they and the organizations they work for are solely focused on building their ‘hard skills’. However, it is the soft skills that give the power needed to blaze through this new role and establish credibility. 

Organizations thus need to help their new managers build their power or soft skills like emotional intelligence, collaboration skills, communication skills, or the other skills needed to build new networks and manage their job roles. By doing this, organizations can ably help them manage this transition anxiety and move on to become strong, resilient managers. 

Build trust 

Building trust is one of the hardest jobs of a new manager. It gets even harder in this new normal characterized by the lack of physical interactions and the rise of remote working. It can be hard to build authentic connections in the absence of face-to-face conversations. It can be complicated to understand team dynamics. Understanding how each individual team member operates and how to motivate them can be gargantuan. As such, it can become harder to build trust.

It is imperative to learn and decode the management style that will work in today’s environment. Therefore, organizations must coach new managers on behaviors that build trust, enable them to lead by example, and help them establish their credibility by building trust. 

Re-thinking meetings and navigating the communication chasm 

Remote working amplifies existing challenges considerably. For new managers, this can make it inherently harder to navigate the organization and establish a balanced relationship with their teams. Understanding processes that work and the ones that don’t within the teams and discovering new methods to connect with the team become essential to drive high-performance.  For this, new managers might need to re-think meetings and communication patterns. 

Meetings, for example, have to become more efficient. For this, the new managers need to develop capabilities like understanding collaboration requirements, setting meeting objectives clearly, and ensuring participation. Choosing the right meeting format and technology, translating how objectives will translate into activity, how to integrate break-out effectively, etc. become important skills to lead the team efficiently. For this, they need direction on how to communicate effectively by building empathy and understanding, both of the work and of the people. 

Establishing a leadership style 

Becoming a new manager is a far cry from the days when becoming a manager meant becoming a boss with a capital ‘B.’ Today, managers need effective leadership styles that are relevant and drive outcomes rather than drive team members crazy. 

New managers have to understand the tenets of leadership to become leaders who work tirelessly to grow their team members. They need to learn to be respectful and yet, authoritative. They need to be problem-solvers without spoon-feeding their team. They have to learn to be respectful, intuitive, and empathetic to gain the trust of their team members. 

Organizations need to coach new managers to understand the dynamics of their new job roles and help them care for their team members. Coaching helps them progress along their career trajectories while making sure that the team remains highly productive and motivated irrespective of their location. 

Conflict and change management 

Managers spend a lot of time managing conflict and change. Since the world of work has become enveloped in a myriad of interdependencies, new managers have to work on developing robust communication strategies to manage these complexities emerging out of change and conflict.

They must develop empathy levels and work on improving their emotional quotient while remaining on the path of continuous personal development. This is essential as most new managers struggle to work out effective solutions either because they cannot understand a problem from the perspective of the employee experiencing it. They might also be lacking in the emotional vocabulary required to empathize without judgment and provide the right solution.

Developing strong conflict resolution capabilities becomes essential especially as the world of work is in a constant state of VUCA (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) and constant change. New managers need coaching to ably and proactively navigate and avoid conflict when possible and take rapid and effective steps when it presents itself. Quite naturally, organizations have to help new managers understand the slippery slopes of conflict management and help them develop robust conflict management styles. 

In Conclusion

Along with all of these traits, organizations need to help new managers develop a positive perspective, balance productivity with well-being, improve decision-making capabilities, and help them deliver greater value to the organization.

It can be challenging to be a new manager. With the remote work situation becoming a mainstay, the challenge becomes even greater. It can be isolating for new managers to establish their authority as for most it means that they are no longer a ‘part of the crew’ and that relationships at work aren’t the same as when they were individual contributors. Instead of trying to get on to the ‘good side’ of people to navigate their new job role, new managers need the support to identify how to ‘connect’ with their team members in honest, authentic, and impactful ways. 

Connect with us to understand how an AI-driven coaching platform can give your new managers the head start they need to assume and traverse their new roles with dexterity and confidence.