by Kevin Eikenberry

Leadership has always been complex. You are trying to reach new and important outcomes and do it with human beings, who are all different and inherently amazing and messy.  If you lead essential workers (in a hospital, factory, warehouse, or restaurant, for example), your team has been and will continue to be working together in the same location.  But if you have been leading a remote team over the past year, it is likely your job is about to get even more difficult.

Your team used to be all together in one geographical location.  As people worked, they could interact with each other, and you with them collectively and individually without much thought.  Then we sent everyone home.  While that caused challenges, over the last year you have at least made it work.

Now, your working world and circumstances could be getting much more difficult.

Both before and during COVID, your working situation was black or white.  First you were all together, then you weren’t, but the situation was the same for most everyone – black or white.  Unless it has been decided that everyone is coming back to the office, or everyone will continue to work from home, you will now be leading in a rainbow world.

The New Complexities for Leadership

Chances are you will be dealing with multiple new variables when leading your team.  

  • Some may come to the office everyday
  • Some may never come to the office
  • Some may come a few days a week or month
  • Everyone may still have a desk – or they may be sharing space with others on the days they come to the office

And if your organization is considering flexible working hours as well, a team that used to all be working at the same time, might be a thing of the past.  People who all live in the same zip code might need to be led as if they were in multiple time zones. 

Here are just a few of the obvious leadership questions this will raise:

  • Will the same people be there on the same days, creating new subgroups and relationship bonds?
  • Will individuals be given the choice of where they work?  And if not, will they like the choice given to them?
  • How and when will we have meetings now?
  • Can we ever get the whole team physically together?
  • Will new power dynamics arise?

It looks like a rainbow of options, situations, and choices to me. It is certainly not black and white.

I offer this article not to scare or alarm you, but to open your eyes.  All of these complexities can be overcome, but to assume that soon things will be back to the old normal, or that the future won’t be much different than what we have been dealing with for the past year, is ostrich thinking.

For now, especially if your organization hasn’t yet determined the future, keep your eyes and mind open. Share your thoughts and concerns – not as a henny-penny or complainer – but with thoughtful concern. 

And if you need help, we’re always here for you, so contact us with any leadership questions or concerns you may have.

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Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. He has spent over 30 years helping organizations across North America, and leaders from around the world, on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication and more.

Twice he has been named by Inc.com as one of the Top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in the World and 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference. The American Management Association named him a “Leaders to Watch” and he has been twice named as one of the World's Top 30 Leadership Professionals by Global Gurus. Top Sales World has named him a Top Sales & Marketing Influencer several times, and his blog has been named on many “best of” lists. LeadersHum has named him one of the 200 Biggest Voices in Leadership in 2023.

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