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3 Areas Effective Leaders Act on to Lead in Today’s Complex Work Environment

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More than a month ago, I had another privilege to step onto the Philippines Top 30 Filipino Leaders on LinkedIn’s platform and speak about something that I, and many other leaders, encounter day in and day out: leading in a complex work environment.

We are all familiar with it. We all experience it. But not many can articulate what exactly is going on and precisely what is behind these complexities.

Stephen M.R. Covey, illustrious author of the bestseller “Trust and Inspire,” clearly articulated 5 emerging forces behind these complexities and changes we are witnessing.

The nature of the world has changed

Day after day, we move closer and closer to the futuristic world we merely watched on the silver screen and imagined. Technological innovations gain traction by the minute. Such advancements have ensued an unprecedented amount and pace of change. Studies even show that human knowledge doubles every 12 hours. This impressive rate has inevitably changed the way we see our past and how we plan for our future.

The nature of work has changed

With better access to information and the arrival of more information as well, the focus shifted to knowledge- and service-based work. What naturally followed was a greater need for collaboration, innovation and creativity in the workplace. And those three are not possible without people adapting to a more flexible and interdependent type of approach at work.

The nature of the workplace has changed

To answer the call for more flexibility and quicker decision-making, workplaces have shifted from a hierarchical to a flatter organizational structure. Further, our physical workplaces continue to evolve from remote set-ups to hybrid operations. Leaders know that these new ways and places where we work have an impact on workplace cultures.

The nature of the workforce has changed

The demographics of today’s employees are also said to be more multigenerational than before. And with millennials and Gen Zs representing the bigger population, they also bring in different experiences and perspectives.

I can’t help but be reminded of one of our featured Humans of Great Workplaces employees, Diane Yco from Ingram Micro. This quintessential Gen Z employee puts a premium on finding a company and workplace culture that aligns with who you are because she believes work is an extension of ourselves. It is clear from Diane’s values that for this generation, a hefty paycheck isn’t enough, a sense of purpose in what they do is also a must.

Lastly, the nature of choice has changed

The changes in all four elements present more choices to a working adult. Generally, we have more job options given the flexibility that we also have. A quick look at the remarkable growth in the freelancing and gig economy and you’ll know the aforementioned to be true.

Hence, it has become even more crucial for companies to create a great workplace culture that attracts, retains and engages talents.

Now, how do effective leaders respond to these changes?

As a culture coach, I have read numerous workplace stories and evaluated many workplace cultures. One thing is certain, the best workplaces are made up of great leaders who respond to the changes and adapt at the same pace that these changes are happening around us.

I want to look at it on three different levels starting from a macro view. Effective leaders respond to the changes in the marketplace, at the workplace and at the very core which is their leadership style.

1.  Companies must keep innovating to thrive amidst the changes and disruptions in the marketplace

For organizations to be successful and competitive in an environment that is disruptive and changing at an unprecedented pace, they must keep innovating.

According to an article by McKinsey and Company, prioritizing innovation today is the key to unlocking post-crisis growth. The same research shows that 3 in every 4 executives believe that the situations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic brought growth opportunities. However, only 30% of the same pool of leaders feel confident to seize these opportunities.

Companies that thrive in today’s complex environment have a workplace culture we call Innovation By All™. This means that all employees in the organization are invested in creating better ways of doing things regardless if they are a part of the Business Development team, a researcher or part of the Finance or HR Department. Employees adapt quickly to changes, respond to unexpected market challenges and generate game-changing opportunities that make the business “healthy tomorrow.”

2. Employees must experience a high-trust For All™ culture for their full potential to realize in the workplace

So, companies need to innovate for it to thrive continuously. And for them to keep innovating, their employees must actively collaborate. This happens when there’s an inclusive environment where employees are comfortable enough to bring their whole selves to work. When there’s leadership effectiveness, values are not just clearly articulated but lived by, and trust anchors the organization’s culture. When these are all present, companies are then able to maximize their employees’ full potential and experience financial growth.

What I just described is a great place to work for all–one where employees regardless of their age, tenure, managerial level or whatever demographic profile that defines them, have a consistently positive experience in their workplace.

3. An effective leader builds a high-trust workplace culture. He is a For All™ leader.

Leaders play a crucial role in creating a high-trust workplace culture that is inclusive, collaborative and innovative. What we find in our study is that the leaders of the Best Workplaces™ are For All.

If we think about it, the answer to innovation and creativity lies in diversity—from the context of ideas to the current workforce. And we know when it comes to the latter, today’s labor force is more diverse than ever. Hence, the former, fostering innovation through a multitude of ideas, is very plausible.

In a sort of litmus test, I measured the diversity of Great Place to Work-Certified companies during our recent in-person event. I asked about 100 leaders in the room to stand up if their workplace is more diverse than it was when they first joined, if their company has DEI initiatives and if diversity in their workplace is exemplified by more than just age and gender. I’d say about 90% of the leaders remained standing, saying yes to all these.

What this tells us is that your organization has what it takes to respond to the complexities of today’s workplace. But the ability to do just that relies on us—the leaders. We need to bring out that strength in diversity.

Are you a For All™ Leader?

If you’re curious to know, look out for the next episode of my newsletter where I will share what it means to be a For All leader.

Together, We Can

At Great Place to Work, we want to build a better world by creating great places to work for all but we cannot do it alone. We need you.

It all starts by Getting Certified™.

Great Place to Work is the global authority on workplace culture. We help you recognize your great workplace culture. And if you feel that you are not there yet, we can partner with you to uncover actionable insights by surveying your employees.

Register for our bi-monthly webinar to learn how.

Let’s stay connected. Shoot me a message to know more about what we do. If you liked this newsletter, don’t forget to hit the subscribe button so I can keep sharing what I learn with you.

You can also catch a replay of the conference here to hear a more in-depth view of what I shared above.

Antoniette Mendoza-Talosig

Antoniette Talosig is the Managing Partner of Great Place to Work® Philippines and the Lead Consultant for Singapore.  Driven by her passion to help people be the best that they can be, Toni started Great Place to Work® in the Philippines with a vision to create a high-trust workplace experience for every Filipino.  She has close to two decades of partnership with some government agencies, SMEs, MNCs and some Fortune 100 companies across industries and geographies. Toni believes being a mother is the greatest adventure of her life and she enjoys seeing the world with her family. 

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.

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