The ability to be adaptable is becoming gold amongst leaders in the contemporary corporate world. A post-pandemic perspective has seen working life in a continuous state of flux, and if leaders want to stay on top of these shifting conditions, then they need to consider adopting a new, flexible management style.
One struggle that leaders may come across is the generational differences they face with their staff. Most people in leadership positions tend to be in their midlife, with statista finding that the average age of CEOs and CFOs in America was 54.1 and 48.9. Now, with Gen Z filtering into the workforce, along with them comes a new set of values that will likely differ to those in leadership positions. The recent ‘quiet quitting’ phenomenon is a prime example of this.
In order to overcome these potential barriers, leaders should start practicing a more adaptable approach to how they manage their people. This will allow them to create a common language to communicate with their younger staff so that they can respond to the needs of these employees more effectively and optimize their talent.
The Centre for Creative Leadership outlines three components of flexibility that leaders should incorporate to help them seize every opportunity:
- Cognitive Flexibility
This is about using different thinking methods to be able to approach each problem from the best angle. Embedding these varying strategies and frameworks into their planning and decision-making will allow them to recognise when a change is needed. Leaders who are flexible and open with the way they think will be able to recognize new trends in the workplace and respond to them promptly.
Leaders who are empathetic towards periods of transition will be the most prepared to guide their staff through change, as well as manage their own potential feelings of angst and resistance. In this sense, those that are willing to show their own vulnerabilities can make their staff more willing to express theirs, and this leads to an open and honest culture in the workplace which allows for proper support through a transitional period.
- Dispositional Flexibility
This concerns finding an equilibrium between being blindly positive and pessimistic. These leaders take on an optimistic perspective that is grounded in realism, and can acknowledge when a situation is bad but look ahead to how to make it better for the future. These leaders have a mindset which allows them to view change as an opportunity rather than a threat.
Leaders who are using all three of these components will be able to interact with change as and when it comes. And with a workforce who have emerged from lockdown with new perspectives on what it means to work , as well as an entirely new hybrid working model, learning to respond to change swiftly and effectively will allow leaders to excel, while also propelling their people and their company forwards.