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How to Effectively Lead in a Hybrid Working Environment

Whilst companies across the nation have adapted to a hybrid working style, blending in-person and remote working, many senior executives feel this has created new challenges when it comes to managing their teams. They must adapt their leadership to virtual and face-to-face environments, sometimes bridging both simultaneously, which requires adjusted methods of communication.

Research published in The new art of business, a report by RADA Business, found that 39% of leaders worry about remote workers seeing company communications in a timely fashion, reflecting concerns amongst leaders about their effectiveness and ability to communicate virtually.

Despite this, video contact with leaders has increased for employees across all age groups, meaning some workers are getting more communication with their senior team than before the pandemic.

Being able to communicate with colleagues and run a team effectively is critical for leaders, particularly as they adapt to this new age of working. Fortunately, there are many approaches which those in leadership positions can use to perform at their most effective in a hybrid working environment, as Katie Lightfoot explains.

Flexing your leadership style
A leader must fulfil many varied roles, whether being authoritative to set the tone and build confidence, being inspirational to spark passion in others, being compassionate to nurture trust, or being analytical and strategic. The art of flexing between these modes is key for any leader, drawing on both their emotional and intellectual life to ensure different scenarios are approached in an appropriate way. It’s critical to build self-awareness of your own leadership preferences and develop those which feel less habitual, to ensure you show up and perform effectively, whether in-person or virtually.

Remember, flex your style to match the scenario, not to match your working environment. This allows you to remain a truly authentic leader.

Hold your space
Simple changes to how you hold yourself, whether sitting or standing, make a big difference to how others perceive you. Whether in an office or communicating from behind a screen, plant your feet firmly on the floor, hip-width apart, and ensure your weight is evenly distributed. Energise and lengthen through the spine, avoiding tension, and imagine a thread coming out of the top of your head which helps support and lift you. This will help you to feel grounded as you communicate your message. Holding your space ensures that you convey a sense of authority and confidence.

Remember your breath
Leading a team can often involve having tough or challenging conversations, whether that be with senior board members or more junior members of the team. Before you approach these situations, it’s important to focus on your breath. Take a moment to breathe out, expelling all the air from your body; then simply let the breath drop in, allowing your belly to expand and move with each breath. This will help you to relax and will give your message the energy and clarity it needs. This technique can be used anywhere, even before entering a meeting room or when preparing to join a video call.

Make eye contact
Whether you are delivering your message virtually or in-person to your team, eye contact is key. Look into the eyes of the people in the room or focus on the dot next to your camera so your gaze remains central and inclusive of everyone. This displays confidence and helps build a real connection with your audience. It is also a great tool for developing trust and will help you deliver your message with impact.

Connect with people
Whether meeting with colleagues in-person or virtually, it’s important to be genuinely curious about what they have to say. It creates an opportunity to strengthen relationships and connections. Giving your full attention to the other person and being present in the moment can unlock a positive response in the other person. Listen to them in order to really understand their thoughts and ideas – this will make them feel valued, more comfortable to open up and can give you a valuable insight into your team.

And there you have it, some skills and techniques to help you master the art of communication and effectively lead in a hybrid working environment.