Business collaboration and organizational culture have changed. Self-isolation and ‘stay home’-campaigns have changed the approach to team identity and leadership presence, and to collaboration and production. People have changed too.
We all react differently to this. So does teams. And our business partners, vendors, and contractors.
This means, that leaders – both formal and informal – need to handle several different situations and collaboration approaches at the same time, inside the same organization, throughout the day.
We need to decode and adapt to the local team context constantly. Every relationship, team, and situation have nuances and differences, and they evolve over time.
Leaders with strong emotional intelligence will have an advantage here. Add eclecticism and responsive ness to that skillset: Listen, observe, and then react with the appropriate response.
The eclectic leadership of the modern workplace
Here’s a quote from Wikipedia on eclecticism:
“Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases.
However, this is often without conventions or rules dictating how or which theories were combined.
It can sometimes seem inelegant or lacking in simplicity, and eclectics are sometimes criticized for lack of consistency in their thinking.”
From my experience, those leaders who manages crises, turbulence and disruptions best, are those that (1) are masters in emotional intelligence, (2) can decode a collaboration challenge in seconds, (3) are capable of finding a solution, and (4) brave enough to support unconventional solutions, when needed.
This is where eclecticism plays a role. Each team and collaboration unit in the organization has its own subculture, structure, design and mechanisms. The modern leader is responsive and understands the nuances of their role and the complex business they are nurturing and are capable of using the right tools at the right time.
They apply their leadership with situational care and finesse, exactly to the situation they are in. Their multidisciplinary skills and ability to improvise make them able to drive the modern organization forward, also in turbulent times.
They are ambitious and diligent when it comes to applying and activating virtues such as humanism, personal charity, self-respect and listening; ‘people first’ lies close to their heart. They are a role model when it comes to curiosity, courage, reflecting, making decisions and taking responsivity for shaping the future for themselves, their organization, their colleagues, their children, society and the planet. They are digitally savvy, or at least not afraid of trying new stuff. They experiment often, make mistakes regularly and extract learning from those mistakes every time
The eclectic leadership style is that of a responsive leader.
How to? Examples from the real life
Here are a list of tools and solutions, I have seen in play amongst the modern leaders and teams that are capable of finding a way through a turbulent and disrupted business. They all have rhythm, rigid cadence, and predictability at heart, which – surprisingly – allows for adaptability, freedom, and eclecticism.
The basic stuff is about your operational work, the rhythm of business, for example:
- Keep your daily scrum-meetings. Embrace the digital tools for that, like video conferences and virtual Kanban boards for a shared overview of the work and activities.
- Create a weekly tactical meeting room for handling synchronization of work between teams, and for sharing learning.
- Have short collaboration touchpoints during the day to allow both for periods of focus and for coordinating your work.
The semi-basic stuff is about your identity and people, the rhythm of connections, for example:
- Have daily check-ins, also when working remote and in virtual teams. Saying “good morning” on your internal social media platform with a picture of yourself and your coffee cup is a great invitation to connect.
- And, say “thank you for today – see you tomorrow” at the end of your day.
- Create a weekly status newsletter or update on your social media. Consider using a voice conference, or even a video conference for that.
- Some create a weekly podcast or video message, that the employees can listen to when they have the time.
It’s all about people and relationships
The advanced stuff is about people and your relationships, with emotional intelligence as your core skill. Again, quoting Wikipedia:
“Emotional intelligence (…) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).”
First, you absolutely need to understand who you are, your virtues, your value set, and the behavior that supports it. This clearly requires, that you as a team create some guidance and principles for how to handle the situation, both practically and mentally: You need to discuss expectations to when you are available for work. You need to make room and space for mental breaks. You need to create a psychological safe space for worries, skepticism, and questions. You need to be more vocal of acknowledgements and support. You need to laugh and have fun.
And then, you need to evaluate those principles regularly, maybe weekly. In times of vast and fast changes, we change the ruleset when needed. I very much love the principle of “good enough for now – safe enough to try”-principle of sociocracy, followed by “we change it when we need to”.
Rhythm of business creates a steady cadence, upon which we can elaborate, freestyle, make new solutions, and adapt to the situations.
But it starts with people and with yourself.