Thursday, May 26, 2022
Bringing the Latest in News Straight to Your Screen


Reboarding And The New Adventure Of Going To Work, Part 2

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at August 27, 2021

In Part 1 of this series on the adventures of reboarding, we explored the dispositional traits and the balance points leaders should grasp to successfully navigate this moment. In this installment, we focus on the type of leader who will be most impactful in guiding organizations through the challenges ahead, creating trust and empowering teams through hybrid management.

Leaders must now become adept at helping their workforce manage elevated stress levels and emphasize wellbeing through the reboarding process and beyond. 2020 dealt us a steady flow of health concerns, contentious politics, societal protests, economic uncertainty, and related mental challenges. Stress has infiltrated all of our lives in new and terrible ways. With variants of COVID-19 on the rise, a consistent theme around reboarding is going to be health and well-being, and not just in the short term. The likelihood that we will fail to reach herd immunity means leaders will regularly be grappling with decisions that involve people’s health and safety for years to come. Further, decades of research have demonstrated that stress has negative health and behavioral effects, and leaders are commonly a major stressor in people’s lives. As a result, those who can help their employees mitigate stress levels and keep health-related concerns at a minimum are likely to not only see their teams perform better, but also earn greater trust and followership from their people.

To better understand how leaders can become more compassionate, supportive, and values-driven, we sat down with Duncan Ferguson, co-author of the newly-released book Best Boss! The Impact of Extraordinary Leaders. Research and insights from the authors’ work have significant implications for leaders navigating the reboarding moment and can help people be better versions of themselves, reduce stressors, orchestrate great performances, and fully leverage the talent on their teams.

Beau River: How did you develop the Best Boss framework, and why is it particularly powerful in leading the modern workforce?

Duncan Ferguson: We initially interviewed more than 50 professionals to understand their Best Boss experiences and the impact these leaders had on their performance, professional development and career progression. There was so much consistency across those interviews about leadership competencies, characteristics and behaviors, we felt that the insights were too powerful to ignore. Additionally, and maybe more importantly, people shared many inspirational stories that made our study as much about a human connection as it was about a leadership connection. A clear question arose: given the positive personal, organizational, and health implications of having a Best Boss, why are they not the rule rather than the exception in our organizational lives? We felt it was important to help leaders reflect on their approach in comparison to the Best Boss leadership dimensions and utilize the framework in their leadership.

“The world is changing, and people largely expect the Best Boss kind of leader now.”

-Duncan Ferguson

River: There is a lot of stress in our working and personal lives because of the pandemic and uncertainty around the reboarding experience. How do people respond to Best Bosses in stressful circumstances, and why should leaders be reading this book and internalizing this model right now?

Ferguson: One of the things we debated was the impact of the global pandemic. We wanted to make sure the framework was relevant with things currently happening in the world. It was clear from our research that when people are facing stressors or ambiguity, great bosses matter even more. People may not work for the best organizations, but when they work for great people with Best Boss leadership characteristics – it can completely change the employee experience. When asked the question, “Who was your best boss?” people would immediately describe the person in clear and often emotional terms. It wasn’t uncommon to witness people, even seasoned executives, cry as they described this special person in their lives. Best Bosses help people thrive and achieve their potential despite stressors and challenges. They empower people to make great decisions and achieve beyond their wildest expectations. People often described “running through walls” for their Best Bosses and demonstrating greater commitment to the direction they set. Bosses can be the best strategic thinkers in the world, but if they can’t inspire their team to surpass barriers and rise above the challenges of the moment, they haven’t gotten the best out of their people or truly broadened their impact.

“Amid the chaos that always accompanies large-scale change and transition, people yearn for compassion, support and authenticity in their work and their lives.

-Duncan Ferguson

River: What is most relevant about Best Boss in helping leaders navigate this moment of reboarding and managing a hybrid workforce? 

Ferguson: The world is changing, and people largely expect the Best Boss kind of leader now. Newer generations of employees are demanding values-driven leaders, support and compassion, and they fully expect an investment in their development. Organizations that reinforce this will have better retention and a more engaged workforce. If organizations do not help their leaders adjust to and tune into the needs of their employees, there will be real, measurable issues. Best Bosses naturally operate in a more inclusive way by nature, rather than taking a top-down approach to enforcing action. Also, it is clear younger generations want to be a part of a purpose-driven organization that aligns with their values. Best Bosses lead from a sense of higher purpose; they want to make sure they have the best interests of the people front and center. This isn’t always achievable, but leaders who aspire to this and make it core to their leadership philosophy will be better at leading in the modern workplace.

River: How is your book relevant to current leadership challenges beyond reboarding, such as issues related to DEI, the Me Too Movement, and the changing conversations at work, etc.?

Ferguson: We believe that the Best Boss leadership principles we uncovered are timeless and ubiquitous, regardless of the era, race, culture, sex or differences in sexual orientation. This is because, amid the chaos that always accompanies large-scale change and transition, people yearn for compassion, support and authenticity in their work and their lives. We entertain the possibility that so many issues in the workplace might be severely diminished if we lived in a world where Best Boss leadership was the rule and not the exception. All employees would find the psychological space and safety at work to be, and continue becoming, the best version of themselves. We understand this vision is an extremely tall order and do not discount for a moment the unacceptable situations endured by far too many for far too long.

“Beyond the individual leader, organizations must fully commit to building and sustaining a foundation of Best Boss leadership principles within their culture.”

-Duncan Ferguson

River: How can we have more Best Bosses?

Ferguson: There is no guarantee one leader can be a Best Boss for everyone. There are too many variables with human relationships to expect this outcome. But leaders can and should aspire to be the best possible boss for everyone they supervise. This takes a personal commitment to understand their current leadership offer and continually explore ways to improve. For this reason, we dedicated portions of our book to individual leader self-reflection and development. Beyond the individual leader, organizations must fully commit to building and sustaining a foundation of Best Boss leadership principles within their culture. At the book’s conclusion, we provoke leaders and organizations to reflect on why Best Bosses are important and what gets in the way of selecting and developing them. Sometimes there are structural or process issues, and sometimes organizations simply do not invest in leadership development to the degree they should. Some companies are fine with leaders strictly being financial results engines. But if they are getting those results the wrong way, it has consequences. People are going to quit or the company’s standing in the marketplace will fall. Usually, engagement research confirms the number-one reason people leave their jobs is because of their boss. Our research helped us understand how to lead in a way that earns solid results, but also empowers people and promotes healthy organizations.

It is clear Best Bosses have an outsize impact, particularly in challenging moments. But how can leaders leverage the Best Boss model to avoid potential pitfalls of leading in a hybrid environment? How do you measure the effectiveness of Best Bosses and hybrid collaboration? What other actions should be taken to mitigate other organizational challenges that might impact retention? Stay tuned for Part 3!

Comments


Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published.