6 Important Leadership Skills Managers Need to Lead a Hybrid Workforce

Post-pandemic, the workplace has gone through irreversible changes. As various organizations are now reimagining the workplace, hybrid working is here to stay. With this irreversible change, leaders must be ready to adapt and lead their teams effectively. To do this, they must develop new leadership skills in communication, collaboration, productivity, and accountability.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how leaders can develop these skills to lead a successful hybrid workforce. So read on and start developing the skills you need to lead a successful team.

Read more: 6 Important Leadership Skills Managers Need to Lead a Hybrid Workforce

What is a Hybrid Workplace?

Hybrid working offers many benefits: technology, efficiency, and flexibility, just to name a few. You can stay in touch with colleagues across the globe and even do collaborative projects from home — all thanks to technological advancements. But more challenges appear. For example,

  • Do you have the management skills to ensure trust and rapport are built smoothly?
  • How will you delegate work and coach your team for leadership roles?
  • Are your virtual meetings conducted effectively?
  • How do you support team members to keep up with technological changes?
  • What about increasing connectivity and nurturing a positive attitude within a team?
  • What are your modes and frequency of communication to help others develop soft skills as they learn to collaborate and ensure productivity?

With so many people management skills to be developed further, leaders and managers have more responsibility to create a positive hybrid workplace.

Over the years after supporting leaders to navigate the post-pandemic workplace, we have found the following six skills essential for leaders to raise their emotional intelligence and effectiveness in the hybrid workplace.

1 Learning Mindset

Learn continually – there's always one more thing to learn.

In this VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) learning mindset is one of the key skills managers should possess. Having a learning mindset helps you keep up with changes in the industry. But what exactly is a learning mindset?

Harvard Business Review stated that a learning mindset involves being motivated toward increasing one’s competence and mastering something new.

Why a learning mindset matters

Understanding the learning mindset is one matter; practicing it is another. Today, despite overwhelming evidence that hybrid workplaces are the way to go, many leaders are still resistant to the idea. While other organizations are already hybrid, many leaders are still stuck in traditional thinking, arguing that work can and should only be done in the office. Still, the evidence from multiple pieces of surveys has shown a large difference in opinions among employees. A study by HBR found that 88% of employees would choose a work that offers flexible time and location while employers want their direct reports to be accessible.

Turning the focus back to you, an effective leader in the future of work, the pertinent question is, will you hold on to traditions and past models, or will you embrace the new trends, adapt your leadership style and become a leader of choice in the future workforce? 

This is where the learning mindset comes in. Some might call this learning agility. In our vocabulary, we associate the learning mindset with the agile mindset.

How to check if you have a learning mindset

To know if you have a learning mindset, use the following questions as a guide.

Are you

  • Open to embracing new ideas and concepts and seeing them as opportunities rather than threats?
  • Do you continuously update your leadership skills by attending relevant leadership training?
  • Do you hone your communication skills and leadership style to meet employee needs?
  • Are you aware of employee needs across cultures and generations?

If you now self-assess and realize you have a learning mindset – – great! This is an important leadership skill who will succeed in the new workplace, and it sets a firm foundation for you to acquire the rest of the core leadership skills described below, so read on for more. 

2 Teach others How to Work, Collaborate, and Leverage Technology

The era of the hybrid workforce is upon us, and leaders need to be aware of technology’s role in collaboration. Using technologies like Slack and Zoom, leaders can create a more efficient work environment conducive to communication. Additionally, video conferencing can be used to hold meetings with team members located remotely. And lastly, BYOD policies give employees the freedom to use their devices at work. As technology continues to evolve and change, leaders need to adapt and keep up with the latest trends.

Some time ago, when COVID-19 first happened, and all leaders were busy acquiring new technology to make work possible, a joke was making its rounds on the internet.

“Who is the greatest accelerator of digital transformation?”

The winner? COVID-19.

( Image by [https://i0.wp.com/media.erepublic.com/image/CDG20_INFOGRAPHIC_AST_V.preview.jpg?resize=631%2C407&ssl=1].
[https://media.erepublic.com/image/CDG20_INFOGRAPHIC_AST_V.preview.jpg].

This goes to show that change is always possible. When leaders are challenged and left with few options, they will find within themselves the creativity and determination to overcome resistance, adapt, and survive. As good leaders, this is the time to push forward and continue harnessing technology.

Why businesses need to harness technology

Although the era of digital change has arrived, and technology has the potential to increase efficiency and effectiveness, it’s understandable that not everyone is ready to embrace change. That’s why one of the good leadership skills you need is to be able to role model, teach others how to change, and how to learn. So as a team leader, if you want your change effort to be successful, you’ll need to show the way by going first.

Leaders have to learn to be good teachers.”

Harvard Business Review

How leaders can lead in leveraging technology

  1. Include learning about technological tools in your professional development plan
  2. Pair every team member with a learning buddy, so no one has to learn alone, plus you create a positive work environment.
  3. Conducting virtual meetings effectively is one of the core leadership skills you need. Don’t be the leader who drones on and on to multiple blank screens or conducts meetings that “could have been an email.”

3 Building Trust and Collaboration Asynchronously

Trust is probably one of the most valuable assets of healthy workplace culture, is difficult to build and easy to lose. Building trust becomes more challenging and even more important when workplaces become hybrid.

Forbes suggests that “The most successful remote organizations are those that can maneuver between asynchronous and synchronous communication.”

Why building trust is more challenging in an asynchronous organization

  1. You don’t see each other face-to-face to build rapport and trust
  2. Loss of organic pantry talk and mealtimes bonding
  3. Increased task-oriented meetings and less human connection

Without trust, it will impede many leadership activities, like giving feedback on work performance and fostering mutual understanding and cross-cultural appreciation.

So in a hybrid setup, pay more attention to how communication occurs when the workforce works asynchronously. Leaders also need to be sensitive to people working across time zones.

A typical cause of conflict that my clients bring up is when expectations about the response rate are not aligned. For example, discussions often take place over email. A difference in expectation on the “timeliness” of replies can trigger misunderstandings and conflicts. So as a leader today, sharpen your leadership skills in this domain and help teams effectively communicate to prevent misunderstandings.

How Leaders can Lead in Building Trust

  1. Make clarity of expectations on top of your leadership agenda. Everyone must be clear about how they will work together to prevent misunderstandings.
  2. Make time during work meetings to create positive relationships
  3. Call out issues early and role model how conflicts can be resolved. An effective leader role models the right behavior. Passive-aggressive behaviors should not be tolerated.
  4. Establish healthy online and offline communication routines. For instance, email etiquette must be emphasized to foster goodwill and trust

4 Encouraging Work-Life Balance and Promoting Mental Health

Work-life balance is a hot topic these days, and rightfully so. New terms are emerging every other month, with the latest called “Quiet Quitting”, where employees simply fulfill what was agreed upon and necessary without going above and beyond to protect their work-life balance.

While more companies are attracting applicants with the promise of a work-life balance, a recent study by Harvard Business Review on burnout found that 89% of 1500 respondents said their work-life balance did not improve and was getting worse. This applied to managers and employees alike, and another recent finding by Gallup found that managers’ stress is at an all-time high.

Why leaders need to be role models for work-life balance and mental health.

  • Managers don’t usually have a work-life balance, affecting employees’ views of work culture. 
  • Managers are often under enormous pressure to perform, but the problem is that they don’t even have time to exercise or go on a vacation because they’ve got so much on their plate. This attitude can affect the employees greatly. 
  • Managers who work like there’s no tomorrow inevitably pass the expectations to their employees. So managing your boundaries as a leader is one of the core leadership skills you need to grow in the world of chronic burnout.

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How Leaders can Encourage Work-life Balance and Promote Mental Health

  1. Set the Example
  2. Establish Boundaries
  3. Promote Hobbies
  4. Demonstrate Right Priorities
  5. Commit to Balance
  6. Offer Work-Life Balance Benefits

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5 Managing Productivity and Accountability with Empathy


Managing a hybrid workforce can be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity to learn and grow. Successful leaders in this environment need to be proficient in different communication styles, be knowledgeable about the principles of human motivation, manage productivity and accountability, and assess employee satisfaction levels regularly. Empathy (and all other emotions) become part of what all successful leaders need to be comfortable displaying.

In a highly cognitive world, leaders might not believe there’s a place for emotions, but the emotional intelligence to do so would go a long way.

Why empathy is one of the most important skills of a leader

When you’re in a leadership position, showing empathy and compassion to your employees helps them trust you. As Rasmus Hougaard, Author of The Mind of the Leader, said

A leader without empathy is like an engine without a spark plug — it simply won’t engage.

One key takeaway from Liz Fosslien and Molly West Duffy’s best-selling book “No Hard Feelings” also suggests that

Sometimes, it is important for leaders to display vulnerability and share emotions. That’s because, if employees feel more connection to their leaders, they perform at higher standard and act more kindly to their colleagues. 

Research conducted by Catalyst found that 76% of employees who experienced empathic leaders said they were engaged, while only 32% for less empathic leaders.

Showing empathy while keeping team members accountable can help them feel supported, valued, appreciated, and understood by their managers without compromising on results. In this way, you will create a positive environment where great results and good mental health can come hand in hand. It also helps them feel like the organization cares about their well-being in general. 

How Leaders can Manage Productivity and Accountability with Empathy

  • Look out for employees who are struggling to meet deadlines. What can you do to support them and help them be more successful?
  • Consider how you can help all team members grow professionally or embark on leadership development.
  • Include motivational theories in your leadership development
  • Engage all employees in career discussions and develop coaching skills to help them develop their career and leadership skills

6 Maintaining Visibility in a Hybrid Setup

While many employees prefer hybrid work, it comes with its unique challenges. Recently, the term proximity bias came into play. According to HRM Asia, proximity bias exists when people place a higher value on work they see or are directly aware of and discount work they do not know about. That’s why, to lead effectively in the hybrid workplace, it is important to help yourself, and others maintain visibility.

Why Leadership Visibility is Important

Maintaining visibility is not only important for employees to remember to eliminate proximity bias. A good leader shows great leadership by being visible to the workforce.

It builds trust and credibility, encourages your team to be more accountable for their work, and helps to keep everyone on track with their goals and responsibilities.

When you’re out of mind, people start to wonder if you are paying attention to what’s happening in their careers, making them less likely to take the initiative on their projects.

To get ahead in your career, it pays to be visible.

– Mindtools

How leaders can maintain visibility for themselves and their teams

  1. Be visible and accessible to your direct reports so you can accurately assess their performance, motivation, and the support they need from you.
  2. Create accountability plans that include both on-site and remote employees.
  3. Include team-building activities in virtual calls. This activity can develop strong relationships, challenges critical thinking, and increase employee engagement.
  4. Learn to communicate effectively. Speak about the accomplishments of your team effectively so that they get the recognition they deserve. Communication skills and communication abilities are important are one of the most important leadership skills.

Did you know that you can improve your communication skills with storytelling?

Check out Leadership Storytelling here.

Now that you have learned the 6 effective leadership skills to lead a hybrid workforce, it’s time to evaluate the skills you need to build. Identify the skills and prioritize them. Make plans to gain the skills, and you’ll find leading in the hybrid workplace rewarding and fulfilling.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Take advantage of Chuen Chuen’s extensive experience coaching leaders worldwide and her deep expertise in designing agile leadership corporate training solutions for your teams. No matter which stage of leadership you are at, we can partner with you and meet your business needs. Explore our executive coaching programs, corporate training courses, or hire Chuen Chuen as your speaker so that your organization will become agile and adaptive.

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