The expectation of leadership has been transformed as more millennials are set to replace baby boomers in the workforce. These new employees not only have different career goals (faster promotions and greater involvement in a wider range of projects), but also have different expectations on how their leaders will interact with them.
The biggest change in leadership is the move from a strict hierarchical system to a flatter approach that values collaboration and encourages thinking outside of the box to create innovative solutions. Employees now expect less stability in companies and hunger for rapid changes in technology.
One way that many start-ups and entrepreneurs are achieving this new collaborative leadership style is through technology. Gone are the snooze-worthy Monday morning meetings where little seems to get accomplished. Instead, continuous streams of communication are being established through platforms like Slack, Skype, Jira, Asana and more. Teams are able to collaborate throughout the day by sharing ideas, finding quick solutions to problems and having instant face-to-face conversations with remote teams with a click of a button.
The modern 'Boss Man'
To call your leader, "boss" is now incredibly outdated. Being a leader no longer encompasses the skill of just telling employees what to do. In the spirit of a modern leadership approach, leaders should let their employees know that "curiosity no longer kills the cat".
Innovation was built on curiosity. A leader in this era needs to be able to not only ask someone to complete a task, but encourage them to find a more creative and efficient ways of accomplishing it. Regardless of their organisational level, employees should feel like they can bring their leaders solutions or ideas.
With the additional expectations of flexible work schedules, modern leaders must learn how to adapt and still lead teams that might not always be physically there. This "remote" leadership, does not only entail keeping teams on track, but also includes employing motivation and fostering a feeling of inclusion across the whole company. Especially for young start-ups who are frequently juggling in-office full-time teams, part time employees and remote teams, communication platforms like Slack and Skype and project management tools like Asana and Jira, are making this possible by enabling teams all over the world to be on the same page.
However, there are still challenges. Some of these include remote teams feeling isolated and working strange hours because of time-zone differences. To combat this, we at AskforTask incorporated weekly "update meetings", or as AskforTask likes to call them, "TBTs" (Touch Base Thursdays). This includes a full head office team meeting along with Skyping in the people working remotely across the globe. This enables the leader to update the whole team at the same time and receive feedback on the week’s activities. It increases inclusiveness and reestablishes a combined focus that the entire team can work on together.
In 2015, Deloitte Australia published a report entitled "Waiter, Is that Inclusion in my Soup?" which showed that teams who felt a high sense of inclusion delivered 80 per cent higher performance than employees that did not. With remote teams only becoming more prominent, it is crucial for modern leaders to continue to find ways to increase inclusion and encourage curiosity.
The ladder or the lattice?
Climbing the "Corporate Ladder". The fundamental aim of all employees - to get to the top. However, Deloitte’s Cathy Benko and Molly Anderson have an excellent pulse on the downfall of the corporate ladder and the emersion of the "The Corporate Lattice". They describe how with the flattening of organisations, moving "up" is not always possible, therefore leadership opportunities must exist at more points.
These "lattices" enable people to broaden their career paths multi-directionally and encourages them to wear multiple hats. This enables employees to gain a greater understanding of different facets of the company and can lead teams more efficiently. With an increased number of leaders across the organisation, there is a greater opportunity for group input from all levels of the organisation, in a range of departments. To keep these groups organised, leaders of lattice organisations are looking to technology (communication systems and online project management tools) to improve ways of working across the invisible borders of hierarchy, geography, and job function.
Zappos made headlines for being one of the first companies to integrate such a radical change publicly. They decided to eliminate job titles, managers and hierarchical decisions to create what they called a "holacracy". This includes dynamic roles instead of set job descriptions. These roles are defined around the project, not the person. The idea is that each team works as a self-sufficient unit, although still dependent on the larger unit. It has enabled an increase in efficiency, transparency, and creativity.
The notion of leadership has significantly evolved in recent years and from all the new ways and techniques the fastest growing companies are establishing, it only directs to being incredibly resilient and adaptable to keep up with the pace.