For leaders, the shift from the traditional work environment (with clearly defined roles and expectations about performance and how employees show up) to a more adaptive and fluid arrangement (where workers have fundamentally more influence over their work world) continues to call into question what leadership means today.

How organizations cultivate their leaders today must shift to a more authentic and empathetic approach that embraces soft skills and increased emotional intelligence. Because younger generations view work differently, leaders need to find new approaches that foster greater connection and engagement and understand what is needed for a thriving, inclusive culture.  

The New Focus of Leaders

According to Gartner’s survey of over 800 HR leaders, more than 50% say that leader and manager effectiveness is a top priority. Approximately 24% say that their approach to leadership development does not necessarily prepare leaders for the future of work.

So, what is one of the most important skills for leadership today?

Emotional Intelligence

The answer is emotional intelligence. For leaders, having a keen understanding of how to use and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict is essential. 

  • Self-regulation, self-awareness, and motivation: these soft skills shift how leaders respond to colleagues and can have a significant impact on the cultural dynamics of a hybrid work environment. 
  • Empathy: Leaders need to authentically respond to the needs of employees and relate personal experiences to build trust and stronger internal connections.   
  • Inclusivity: being open to expanding your workforce to include both internal and external resources.

Leaders must continue to cultivate the soft skills and emotional intelligence to meet the changing needs of a holistic work environment and navigate a fluid future of work.  

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