Leaders today are facing challenges like never before. Organizations are operating in times of uncertainty. Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, only about half of all professionals worked from home more than half the time. Today, employees at 88% of organizations are working from home more than half the time.
Organizations have been through a lot of change in the past two years. And in these times of uncertainty, it’s all too easy for leaders to struggle.
Only leadership accountability is critical to helping leaders to drive results in this constantly changing environment.
All this change has been disruptive. But the results speak for themselves. Research shows that flexible remote work policies can not only reduce commuting times, but lower corporate costs, increase employee satisfaction, and help attract top-tier talent. All in all, shifting to more remote work could add $4.5 trillion a year to the economy by 2030.
But organizations can’t reap the potential benefits of remote work without setting the tone of leadership accountability for employees at all levels. Leading remotely is a challenge that organizations must meet.
Leadership has never been easy, but today, leaders face particular challenges, such as:
- Innovation. Disruption is constant, and leaders must promote innovation to help their organizations stay up to date.
- Strategy. It’s a leader’s job to ensure that employees understand the organization’s strategy, so that they can execute on top priorities in a timely fashion.
- Change management. Constant change is the reality of today’s world. Leaders face enormous challenges in managing new change initiatives.
- Creating value. Corporations today are expected not only to create value for shareholders, but to consider their impact on customers and the wider community. Leaders must live up to these high expectations.
- Nurturing talent. Leaders can’t get so mired in the day-to-day work of leadership that they neglect developing the leaders of the future.
All these challenges exert a tremendous amount of pressure on leaders. In order to avoid allowing performance to slip, leaders urgently need support.
In times of uncertainty, accountable leadership is a crucial differentiator. Our research proves that 5 key behaviors set accountable leaders apart from mediocre ones. Accountable leaders:
- Hold their direct reports and colleagues accountable for meeting high expectations. Great leaders set clear expectations, so employees know what their top priorities should be. Leaders must also hold employees accountable for meeting those expectations.
- Make tough decisions and have tough conversations. Leaders must never let technology become a crutch. When it’s time to make a tough call or have a performance conversation, there’s no substitute for clear, direct communication.
- Clearly communicate strategy. It’s a leader’s job to make sure employees clearly understand the company’s strategy and how their roles fit in. Clear goals and priorities can greatly increase employee engagement and decrease stress.
- Inspire optimism about the future. Especially in a world of remote work, it’s easy for employees to feel disconnected. Leaders must offer emotional support and share their genuinely positive outlook on the company’s future.
- Clearly communicate external trends. Leaders should stay up-to-date on trends affecting their industry so that they can help employees understand the context in which they work. Honest, transparent communication is key to helping employees feel motivated instead of overwhelmed or anxious.