Debra Dinnocenzo discuss the challenges and key leadership skills essential to hybrid leader success. Based on recent research she conducted, Debra shares why identification of skills and behaviors for effective leadership of hybrid teams is critical to success of organizational performance and profitability as the traditional workplace gives way to more flexible work relationships.

The importance of leader organization, time management, communication, and distance relationship building in the context of the hybrid workplace merits mindful consideration by organizations and human resources professionals. These insights are essential to effectively address the selection, onboarding, development, coaching, performance management, and succession systems that must be designed to meet the unique needs of leaders in the expanding remote, hybrid, and digital workplace.

About the Host:

Since publishing her first book on telecommuting in 1999, Debra has been a pioneer in the shift to virtual work and remote leadership. Few practitioners in the field have the depth of knowledge and hands-on experience that distinguishes Debra in the hybrid workplace and remote leadership space. As a nationally recognized expert in remote workplace and distance leadership, Debra has spoken widely on related topics, and developed and taught “Leadership in the Virtual Workplace,” an online graduate-level course.

Debra A. Dinnocenzo is president and founder of VirtualWorks!, a consulting, coaching, and training firm that specializes in virtual work issues. Debra is a dynamic keynote speaker, innovative educator, impactful coach, seasoned executive, and successful author. 

Debra is the co-author of the recently released book, REMOTE LEADERSHIP – Successfully Leading Work-from-Anywhere and Hybrid Teams, as well as several other books on remote and virtual teams.

Schedule a call with Debra HERE

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Debra Dinnocenzo:

Welcome to the Remote Leadership Podcast. I want to talk today about the skills and behaviors associated with leader effectiveness in organizations that are shifting to hybrid and remote workplace models of of which there are many organizations today. In retrospect, the sudden pivot to remote work arrangements was dramatically accelerated by the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. As many of us know, various degrees of remote hybrid work were adopted by necessity, pretty much in a panic. With the projected initial three week lockdown lingering well beyond any expectation. The nature of the sudden shift to remote work didn't really allow for much planning and certainly little if any structure training or organizational support. As a result, most organizations haven't consciously given much time attention or funding to a equipping leaders or teams with skills to function effectively in the hybrid workplace for the long term. Nor have organizations found ways to meaningfully establish leader expectations and provide performance feedback on key performance targets relative to effective distance leadership. Identification of the necessary skills and behaviors for effective leadership of hybrid teams is critical to the success of organizations, as the traditional workplace gives way to more flexible work arrangements. It's important to consider this are leadership skills different or differently applied when leaders are distant from team members. Whether these are full time remote, or as we're seeing more frequently now, teams that are hybrid with a mix of on site and off site work, and no one size fits all workplaces designed for the hybrid workplace. Understanding how leaders most effectively lead in these shifting and still sometimes uncertain environments is really important. Some research I recently undertook reveals that while core leadership competency areas remain relevant, that behavior manifestation of those competencies, and the application of related skills is shifting. As the work environment shifts to new ways of working, communicating, motivating, and leading, the way work is done and the way leaders must adapt to remain effective is evolving as the workplace evolves. So understanding how these changes impact leadership success, now and into the future, merits mindful consideration by organizations to address the challenges leaders face, as the demand for excellence in leadership in the hybrid workplace seems certain. My research was designed to identify the differentiating skills and behaviors that are utilized by leaders who demonstrate extraordinary effectiveness in leading in the hybrid work environment. While essential competency areas along with target skills and behaviors used as the basis for my research, were drawn from several established competency models. interviews of leaders actively engaged in hybrid work environments were also used. And this helped in reporting an emphasis on different skills in some competency areas, as well as redefined application of the skills that reflect realities of the digital work world. These differences the the redefinitions and the nuanced application of the skills for leadership effectiveness in the hybrid environment represent the important learnings from the research of the focused competency areas in the research which were primarily the leadership behavior, the interpersonal skills, organizational leadership and results leadership were recognized as Important, with a clear preference for work structures and methods, goal clarity, and work team designs that encourage cross team interaction. Importantly, the ability of leaders to adapt to changing workplace dynamics and demands is seen as highly critical. Leaders who participated in the research were keen to recognize the importance of remote leader competence and confidence in utilizing digital communication tools. research participants also noted the importance of effective time management and organizational skills that enable hybrid leaders to establish priorities, maximize their availability to team members, and to proactively connect with remote team members. So skills associated with organization, planning and time management were reported as critically important. research participants mentioned these skills both often and with great emphasis, explaining that the pace at which information and communication streams to leaders in the digital workplace requires extraordinary organization and time management disciplines that really does differentiate the skill areas and the application of them from the onsite workplace. Participants also commented on the correlation between organizational skills and intentional engagement requirements for leader effectiveness in the remote workplace. research participants provided examples to demonstrate how poor organizational and time management skills lead to overwhelming disorganization, and ultimately failure to communicate in a timely manner, or to proactively engage distant team members. These failures were depicted as contributing to team member dissatisfaction disengagement, as well as critical derail errs for the hybrid leader. So intentional reach outs are seen as vitally important for excellence and leading from a distance. This leads to a clear need for remote and hybrid leaders to take initiative and to be proactive. While these are typical skill areas for leaders, the inference is that these skills are more critical in hybrid environments, because they are enablers of other key skills and behaviors, such as communication, engagement and relationship building, which of course is seen as highly important. research participants noted that there is little or no monitoring of how effectively or frequently, leaders and hybrid environments communicate, engage, and make efforts to build relationships. These less tangible behaviors and activities appear to be difficult to monitor and measure, particularly in light of how relatively new the rapidly expanding hybrid workplace is for many organizations. Therefore, leaders must rely on their individual commitment, their personal commitment to proactively plan and execute activities related to communication, engagement with team members, building relationships, and strengthening relationships within the team.

Debra Dinnocenzo:

I think it's perceived that much of this happened more spontaneously and organically in the unsafe workplace. So managing all of the demands for communication team interactions, and meeting performance expectations represents significant challenges for remote hybrid leaders. The pressure of these expectations is exacerbated when leaders are resistant to new ways of working, communicating and building relationships from a distance. Failure to adapt to the new workplace models with appropriate leadership styles is a challenge for both the leader who might derail but also for both that leaders Team and the organization because this leads to productivity, profitability, and motivation, all of which are likely to decline. Even in the best of circumstances when there are enlightened committed leaders using appropriate technology resources and using them well, along with effective time management techniques, those leaders that benefit from strong organizational support even in these best of circumstances, research participants noted there remain challenges in hybrid leadership. Another significant challenge that was mentioned is the perceived need to find ways to replicate and simulate the types of informal and spontaneous organic interactions that happened. more authentic, is perceived as more authentically when people were co located in physical work locations on a regular or daily basis. If you've listened to previous remote leadership podcasts in this series, you've heard me mention this before, the need to replicate and simulate the behaviors and activities common to the onsite workplace through meaningful presence in the remote workplace. This challenge was mentioned frequently, along with much frustration about the inadequacies of the remote hybrid environment in addressing this need, aside from the strategies mentioned, such as regular on site times when it's possible, that provide for team engagement. Actually, it was interesting that very few solutions were offered for meeting the challenge of human connections through technology. This, in my mind, mind remains a real obstacle to hybrid workplace success, and an opportunity for technology enhancements, as well as greater leader and team creativity and acceptance in the use of technology tools to facilitate human connections. Look out and listen for more on this in a future podcast because I consider it to be a real opportunity, a challenge, and a real need to be addressed. Because the use of the effective use of technology and the ways that technology can be more humanized or designed to facilitate more human connections is to me vitally important. Why findings from the research provide guidance to organizational leaders and human resources professionals regarding the support and development of leaders of hybrid organizations? It's important to strengthen organizational programs and approaches to enhance leader effectiveness in the leadership of hybrid teams. It's clear that communication methods and related technology that enables communication from a distance must be mastered to ensure a leaders ability to maintain engagement with team members, and to build strong relationships necessary to attain desired performance results. Adaptation of leadership style is also essential, therefore, for leaders of hybrid teams, who must also develop their skills to communicate competently and confidently from a distance and effectively manage time in priorities to facilitate intentional interactions with remote team members. So why is this research important? results provide a foundation for selection, onboarding, development, coaching, performance management and succession systems that can and need to be designed to meet the unique needs of leaders in the expanding remote hybrid and digital workplace. As the workplace evolves, and reliance on old models of work design are no longer applicable. So must our understanding and application of leadership models and methods evolve? And while the core compass and C's for leader effectiveness remain relevant. How competencies are defined and understood in supporting hybrid leader effectiveness are key components of enlightened organizational, and human resources leadership. As always, I'm glad to talk with you in greater depth about ensuring remote leadership success or about my research. You can reach out to me at remote leadership or use the link in the show notes to schedule a time on my calendar to talk. Here's to your personal and organizational success in leadership in the expanding remote and hybrid work world. Thanks for listening, and for sharing this podcast with your colleagues.