The Leaders Lab 2022 Workplace Report
THE CHANGING LEADERSHIP REQUIREMENTS
Over the last decade as workplace expectations have increased, execution has become increasingly complex, and innovation has never been more critical to sustained success. There is no doubt that our requirements of leaders has become increasingly demanding and difficult. Professor Linda Hill’s longitudinal research (HBR, 2022) has found that in this new world, the job of leaders is no longer about getting others to follow them into the future; instead, it requires them to invite others to co-create the future with them.
Studies show that the most successful leaders connect the people they depend on around a shared purpose and common values, as they support bottom-up creativity, initiative, and improvisation while establishing structures, performance metrics, and guardrails to minimise outsized risk-taking and keep everyone aligned. Instead of being at the front of the stage, showing others the way, these leaders set the stage and create an environment in which others are willing and able to do the hard work of co-creation.
Professor Hill notes that it is a daily feat that requires emotional resilience, courage, and patience as leaders try to amplify diversity of thought and navigate potential conflict, experiment and iterate a path forward with many false starts and missteps along the way, and hold options open so that even opposing ideas can be integrated in creative and useful ways.
Add to this the challenge of helping their teams to navigate a global pandemic, a worldwide environmental crisis, unpredictable political upheaval, overdue racial reckoning, rising inflation and the widespread emergence of hybrid work arrangements, and it is easy to understand why many leaders have felt their responsibilities are often overwhelming. So when SafeWork Australia recently updated the model of Work Health and Safety laws to include identifying and doing “everything reasonably practical” to deal with psychosocial risks – aspects of work such as lack of job clarity, low levels of control for work, unreasonable job demands, inadequate support, low recognition and reward that have the potential to cause psychological harm to team members – we set out to research how leaders could meet these additional responsibilities with minimum effort and maximum impact.
The answers outlined in this new report will be unexpected for many Australian workplaces.