To hybrid or not to hybrid? That is the question on most CEO’s minds currently, one that can be viewed through a lens of risk, well-being, customer experience, operational efficiency and even financial implications amongst others.
Yet why has the evolution of hybrid workplaces become such a tricky one to navigate? Could the dilemma actually be rooted in something much more profound than balance sheets, productivity formulae and satisfaction surveys? Could hybrid models currently be challenged by the very concept of leadership, or more specifically, self-leadership?
To work digitally some days and talk to a computer screen for 8 hours does take effort, self-discipline and organization for a myriad of reasons. To turn up physically on other days and interact with on-again, off-again face to face relationships can at the very least be, inconsistent. Inconsistency erodes dependency, a vital ingredient of trust.
When the ability to trust, or be trusted declines, two vitally-important human beliefs are negatively impacted:
- The concept of ‘I matter’
- ‘I matter’ ordinarily breeds an air of self-worth, self-confidence and self-care, recognizing and rewarding social, emotional and economic well-being.
- The concept of ‘making a difference’
- When ‘I matter’, purpose-driven beliefs can emerge and extend into, I can ‘make a difference’ is also nurtured, inferring that even in the toughest of times, opportunity exists to contribute, and build ‘we-ness’.
When an environment revolves around positive self-leadership , around empowerment for thinking and acting differently, along with the anchors of ‘I matter’ and hence ‘I can make a difference’, it is not unusual to see processes updated, customer satisfaction actions increasing, efficiency suggestions more forthcoming, creativity soaring, an emerging willingness to step beyond the known, openness of sharing increasing, impartial and frequent recognition, all without intervention, coercion or demands of the leader. In any hybrid model which depends on trust at its core, positive and creative action that sparks change just seems ‘the right thing to do’ for the team members, firstly because they care and secondly, they are cared for.
Everyday heroes do exist around us, yet there still can be a vast increase in their numbers to tip the power in rapidly-evolving hybrid corporations. Team members without title, position or authority often feel so compelled to make a change because the alternative is simply unacceptable to them. For example, the informal leader (individual contributor) who watched her 150 colleagues receive redundancy notices during the pandemic could not sit back and watch her colleagues’ livelihoods collapse. She stepped into the unknown, reached for What’s App and requested help from anyone able to give, and within days, a series of remote, rolling learning initiatives was underway, giving these people opportunity to reposition their careers with new skills. Not only was she self empowered, yet also her contribution had far-reaching positive impact. All was achieved without question, approvals or policy from managers or leaders, rather just courage, commitment and capability – just pure self-empowerment.
The future of work should not be about ‘to be or not to be hybrid’ but rather ‘to be or not to be trusting and trusted’ within any future hybrid environment. This is, afterall the space where true difference will emerge and endure, or simply be locked away forever. Could business afford the latter?