By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

In an upside-down world characterized by seclusion, social distancing, and sanitizers, organizations are battling many challenges. 

Whether it is accepting that the new normal is now just normal or coming up with creative strategies to foster growth and keep employees motivated is topping the priority list of most organizations. As fear and uncertainty become a pervasive feeling, organizations need to recalibrate their leadership coaching strategies to help their leaders navigate these tumultuous times and help their teams do the same. 

Read: Want to Create A Pipeline of Leaders? Train Managers to Become Better Coaches

Organizations might have become more virtual than ever before, but they need real and authentic leadership, and for that, here are a few things to consider:

Remote work is here to stay

Enabling remote work and virtual teams during the initial days of the pandemic might have seemed like a one-time incident. The mass experiment of working from home has resulted in niche demands for leaders to provide the right guidance and motivation for their teams. There has been a profound impact on the nature of work. We now stand at a turning-point of people management.

The move to this remote and virtual work model quite naturally demands a change in the modus-operandi. It needs a step-change change in behaviors and mindsets of leaders so that they can lead their people, and consequently the organization, to success.

Read: Keeping Your (Newly Remote) Team Engaged with Coaching

This can only be achieved by coaching leaders to become more authentic, intelligent, observant, caring, trusting, accountable, and empathetic in their leadership styles. 

In other words, leadership coaching and leading has to finally get hyper-focused on things that really matter.

Designing new ecosystems for communication and collaboration

Leadership styles need a makeover, especially as virtual collaborations have almost replaced face-to-face work environments. Leadership coaching in the post-COVID era has to become more focused on building communication and collaboration capabilities.

As leadership becomes more virtual than ever before, organizations have to coach their leaders to communicate values, strategic intent, meaning, and vision of projects with their team members. It becomes essential to build identity using storytelling, display emotional responses the right way to motivate and convey commitment and passion, and develop a sense of unity.

Read: A Manager’s Guide to Coaching Their Teams

Since chance meetings in hallways are now replaced with digital media, communication has to happen with greater intent and more discipline, even when there is no urgent problem to solve. Leadership coaching has to now focus on helping leaders understand and internalize that even if there are no problems to solve, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing to discuss.

The spotlight is on emotional intelligence

In the post-COVID world, leadership coaching needs to focus on developing leaders who can foster trust and respect by demonstrating reliability, integrity, and confidentiality. Along with this, they have to work towards developing their emotional intelligence to create strong, motivated, and committed teams.

Read: The 3 Most In-Demand Power Skills for Managers Today

In an atmosphere characterized by fear and uncertainty, leaders have to be the positive agents of change and know the right strategies to keep the workforce motivated and engaged. 

Leaders have to develop their intuitiveness and communicate more clearly, honestly, truthfully, and empathetically. This is even more important for leading those who are first-timers in the world of virtual work. By developing emotional intelligence, leaders can help alleviate feelings of isolation and help employees navigate their work and their career paths with enthusiasm.

Thus, leadership coaching has to focus on building leaders who are more self-aware, can self-manage, and have a high degree of empathy to navigate and guide relationships at work with greater clarity. Doing this will help organizations foster leaders who can inspire others, manage conflicts, and encourage teamwork and other important competencies and move people in the direction they desire.

The art of letting go

In this new era of work, leadership coaching has to focus on helping leaders develop their skill of letting go. By no means does this mean looking the other way and absolving oneself of responsibilities. It means relinquishing control and micromanaging to gain greater and more positive influence.

The focus then moves towards building authentic leadership that inspires teams to become more accountable towards their work and take greater ownership of their actions. This can only happen when leaders show greater trust in their people, enable the growth mindset, and learn to personalize and individualize interactions. By doing this, leaders allow a sense of autonomy to prevail, which, in turn, builds accountability in teams.  

Things that matter

The remote work and virtualization experience will need a paradigm shift in leadership styles. Therefore, it will need new leadership skills and models. As this new work environment evolves, leaders have to be coached to play crucial mobilizing and facilitating roles and will be judged more on their capacities to mobilize their environments to expedite new competencies.

Elements like increasing their digital literacy to navigate the digital workplace, improving their agility to drive project momentum, accelerating strategic and creative thinking capabilities, or becoming more intentional and authentic in engaging with employees will have defining effects on organizational outcomes. Additionally, leadership coaching in the post-COVD world has to lean heavily towards building the emotional intelligence of the leaders to help them build team resilience and drive organizational evolution.

While the pandemic has introduced a difficult time, it also presents an opportunity. It is time to build authentic leadership models that drive a sense of belonging and shared values across the organizational value chain. 

Our AI-powered coaching platform helps organizations move along this journey and helps them develop their leaders to shine in this new and confusing world of work. 

Connect with us to assess how you can create a robust leadership pipeline that is ready to take this new world head-on.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Industry disruption and technological change are present-day reality. 

Digital information networks have made the world more connected than ever before. Opportunities to grow and cross-fertilize innovative ideas across the organization are becoming more plausible. 

These changes are bringing about a renaissance of sorts in a department that has somehow continued to retain its traditional format – the R&D department. 

However, companies that are successful in pushing the R&D teams out of their traditional avatars have turned this department into a major powerhouse for business. Think about industry leaders like Amazon, Google, Apple. All of these companies have created a strong innovation culture that has permeated to their R&D teams. 

So, what can organizations do to create an innovation culture and grow strong R&D teams?

What is an innovation culture?

An innovation culture, simplistically, creates a climate that is conducive to innovation. 

In such an environment, employees are growth-oriented, keen to take on challenges, and eager to come up with new ideas for value creation. They can do so because the organization is supportive of new ideas and idea generation. 

Organizations with an innovation culture also encourage and reward discovery. 

Innovation culture and the R&D team 

The pressure on organizations to build and deliver world-class products is only increasing. This trend is not going to change. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations have to boost the innovation culture in their R&D teams to make it stronger. 

How can they achieve this?

Deliver world-class innovation

An innovation culture demands a high level of accountability from all those working in this segment. Everyone is expected to be hyper-focused on delivering the best product, services, platforms out into the market. These people not only have to be focused inwards to explore innovation opportunities but outwards as well to make sure that they out-innovate competition. 

But this culture begins with a philosophy that is almost analogous to parenting. Parenting demands that you give a child both roots and wings. Thus, at an organizational level, it is essential to ground creative and innovative minds in accountability towards organizational goals, focus areas, capabilities, and commitments. 

It involves 

  • Identifying the barriers to innovation and helping the R&D team members see where their work fits in and where it could go. 
  • Helping them seek out and enabling opportunities to interact with people who can help them grow and excel in areas where they might need help. 
  • Reinventing the concept of productivity. Instead of relying on traditional productivity metrics such as on-time delivery, productivity has to be linked with time spent on research and discovery and value generation. 
  • Reinventing and fine-tuning business processes so that these don’t become impediments and barriers to innovation.

Focus on building a strong culture 

Innovation culture is rooted deeply in the growth mindset. 

Growth mindset is a belief that intelligence can be fostered, abilities can be developed, and that mistakes are not signs of failures but opportunities for improvement. 

To develop an innovation culture in the R&D teams, organizations have to create systems that support employees to grow their skills and abilities. These systems have to help employees remain on the path of continuous learning and continuous improvement to become change agile and recognize their own value and potential. 

These processes have to generate energy within employees to improve and excel. They also have to have the right measurement metrics to help employees understand their barriers of excellence and success and then provide the right tools to scale this chasm.

A strong innovation culture also lies deeply rooted in being customer-obsessed. Developing the ability to think ahead and to think from the customer’s point of view involves an amalgamation of scientific and creative skills. Skills like empathy, observation, critical, and strategic have to be cultivated so that the R & D teams can create products that customers love.

Additionally, to create a strong culture, organizations also have to focus on creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive technical excellence. This involves not only improving the technical dexterity of the employees, but also honing their problem-solving skills, adaptability levels, creative thinking capabilities, and curiosity. It also involves developing the capability to apply continuous learning to technical challenges to come up with creative and innovative solutions. 

Grow a strong team 

Driving innovation culture demands developing strong teams…teams that are focused and motivated to excel in their job roles and eager to push the envelope a little bit further each time. 

The first step towards this involves providing clarity in roles and responsibilities, expectations, and outcomes. When employees are acutely aware of what is expected of them, it becomes easier to map the steps needed to achieve these goals. 

Managers play a critical role in helping team members gain clarity regarding their roles and responsibilities. They are instrumental in pushing team members to raise the bar through positive reinforcements. They are critical in raising the employee engagement and employee experience bar to have team members who willingly put in discretionary efforts. All of these initiatives rely heavily on power skills. Working on these aspects helps in generating energy within the team members where they become self-motivated and innovation inclined. 

When implemented, all these efforts help in creating an innovation culture that helps in growing strong R&D teams. 

While organizations will need to look at the technical dexterity of their workforce, they have to focus more on developing the power skills of their employees. This is simply because being innovative, is a Power Skill. 

The AI and ML-powered NumlyEngage™can help you grow a strong team, build an innovation culture, and deliver world class innovation. Get a demo today

Upcoming Webinars - Engaging and Up-Skilling Your Employees From a Distance

3rd and 17th December, 2020