Leading by example can be one of the most effective ways to manage your business, helping to build trust and credibility between those in leadership roles and their employees and encouraging workers to act with integrity. “Leading with heart, care and genuine concern for team members and encourage them to do the same for each other, this is how we bring generosity into practice,” says Graeme Codrington, a Future of Work expert. “We need to go out of our way, specifically in this hybrid space, to show our care and compassion.”
How to lead by example in a hybrid workplace
The hybrid model has provided the perfect opportunity for leaders to set examples for their employees to follow. With more than three quarters of employees reporting a shift to hybrid work models within their business, organisations are looking to balance in-office hours with remote work. As a result, leadership teams are having to reconsider and develop new ways in which they can exemplify behaviour within their company and avoid employees falling into habits that will see them overworked, or simply present instead of productive.
If every leader is seen to forgo their own mental health and well-being, and not utilise the hybrid model to improve their own well-being, then why would the employee?
Leaders are responsible for setting the tone of an organisation, so by prioritising these issues from the top, setting an example, and encouraging open dialogue and communicating that it’s okay not to be okay, you can reassure your employees that their feelings are a priority and you understand the importance of mental health in the workplace.
It is also the responsibility of leaders to show employees that they do not have to attend every meeting for the sake of job security. One concern of hybrid working is that it encourages employees to be overly present, combining remote interactions with office hours simply to show face. This was a problem that also surfaced during the lockdown era, with employees feeling as if they were ‘always-on’, overcompensating for the lack of physical presence in the office.
Put simply, leaders need to mirror the behaviours they want to see in their employees. As soon as team leaders start regularly going back into the office, it is likely that their team members will follow, even when it is not necessary. Communication is going to be key, especially when it comes to addressing the concerns of those returning regularly to the office having been remote working for so long.
One thing to watch out for as a leader in a hybrid working model is distance bias. Leaders need to avoid favouring in-office employees, and make sure that all employees have an equal experience. Regardless of whether employees are in the office, or working remotely, leadership members should engage with them in the same way. By doing so, they will demonstrate that all employees receive the same working experience, regardless of how they choose to work.
“They [leaders] should mirror the right behaviours, communicate thoroughly, and make sure that people have insight and are able to get information without having to be in the office,” says Andy Davis, Head of Future Workplace Strategy and Growth at Fujitsu. “They can do this through videos, or any of the tools out there to make information available to people.”
Benefits of leading by example
Simply put, leading by example and putting the values of honesty and integrity at the forefront of leadership behaviour, creates a working environment that employees want to be part of, as they feel valued. This will increase staff retention, aid productivity and generally improve the mental well-being of those involved with the company.
When a team leader does something as simple as demonstrating that employees are not expected to be in every single meeting in, or out of the office, this can help to combat higher levels of stress and burnout symptoms amongst employees.