Only 1 in 4 employees feel connected to their company's culture in hybrid settings. It's time for a new approach to leadership recruitment! Go beyond skills; find those who bridge the digital divide.

By Adrian von Dewall
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The shift toward more remote and hybrid work models has not only transformed how organisations operate but also redefined the qualities that make an effective manager. As an executive search partner, the responsibility of identifying leaders who can thrive in today’s rapidly changing workplace is immense.

Drawing on insights from Gartner and the principles of organisational change from Harvard Business Review, let's delve into why managers fail and how to pinpoint the right leadership qualities that align with modern business demands.

Understanding the Disconnect in Modern Management

According to a study by Gartner, a mere one in four hybrid and remote knowledge workers feel connected to their organisation's culture. This disconnect highlights a critical failure in contemporary management: many managers are not equipped to cultivate a sense of culture and belonging in non-traditional work environments. Ashley Steele from Gartner emphasises that most managers lack the skills to intentionally foster cultural connectedness, which is especially vital in a hybrid setting.

The Shift in Management Requirements

Traditional management techniques often fall short in virtual settings, where the nuances of digital communication and team dynamics play a pivotal role. As recruiters, we must look for leaders who are not only proficient in these areas but who are also adaptable and continuously open to learning new skills. This includes being adept at leveraging digital tools to maintain team cohesion and drive engagement across various locations.

Key Strategies for Recruiting Modern Leaders

To address the challenges of recruiting for modern work environments, here are a few strategies that pay attention to in the selection process:

Here’s a Real-World Example:

Consider a case where I was tasked with recruiting a CEO for a burgeoning tech startup. The ideal candidate needed to navigate a primarily remote workforce spread across multiple time zones. One standout candidate showcased her ability to effectively manage remote teams by implementing regular virtual team-building exercises and open "office hours" for real-time communication, which she supported with robust use of project management tools that kept everyone aligned on tasks and goals.

Learning from Organisational Changes

Incorporating insights from organisational restructuring, such as Meta’s emphasis on a "flatter is faster" approach, helps identify leaders who are comfortable working within and fostering less hierarchical environments. These leaders should demonstrate how they've effectively managed decision-making processes and fostered empowerment among their teams.

The role of a recruiter in today’s evolving business environment involves more than matching skills with job descriptions; it requires a deep understanding of how leadership styles can either enhance or hinder the dynamics of modern workplaces. By focusing on these evolved competencies and leadership behaviours, we can better identify candidates who are not only equipped to handle the challenges of today but are also capable of driving future success in increasingly digital and dispersed work environments. This approach ensures that the leaders we place are truly capable of fostering an inclusive, adaptive, and connected workplace culture.

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