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Leadership + Executive Presence for Our New Normal

Leaders Must Embrace New Rules

The last twelve months have thrown the world of work into disarray, whether you are an individual contributor, a team collaborator, manager, or executive. We’ve been forced to reinvent our work cultures, or, at the very least, translate them to work in a virtual space. This has not been easy. We’re more comfortable now that we have a year under our belt, but as we come up for air the reality is starting to sink in—we will be working with at least a hybrid version of this new normal for a long time to come. 

Below are some of the trends I’m seeing along with some new best practices for communicating and leading effectively in this new normal.

We have a huge opportunity to relate differently

When it comes to trends, one of the biggest things I’ve seen is that we’re relating to our coworkers more holistically. Our work environments offer a window into each other’s lives. Our kids, pets, spouses, and our homes have become part of our work personas. Outdated rules such as ‘thou shalt not have a bed in your frame’ have thankfully fallen by the wayside. It’s simply not possible for us to control our environments as much as we’d like. Your bedroom, or closet, might be the quietest spot for you to run your meeting. 

One rule will never change. You should continue to be mindful of your professionalism. Always wear pants—you never know!

It’s all about setting expectations

The virtual space has made it imperative that leaders set explicit expectations. Life is extraordinarily messy right now, for you, and for your team. Let them know how you plan to show up and how you’d like them to, in return. Communicate things like:

  • Whether or not video will be required for the meeting
  • Your agenda (is this business, social, or a bit of both)
  • Time (be punctual and don’t go over)
  • What kind of interaction you are expecting

The reality is that virtual meetings are more cognitively demanding than in-person meetings if you can believe it. We are constantly looking at ourselves. We have to put extra energy and effort into interpreting one another’s behavior (or lack thereof). It simply is a lot more work and everyone is exhausted. Set a clear vision for your team so they don’t have to spend precious focus time guessing about what you expect.

Create space for social cohesion

We don’t need to repeat our impulse during the first months of the pandemic to be online all the time. Everyone has gotten into a rhythm and is less overwhelmed by working and meeting virtually. That being said, you want to have a good mix of meetings that address work and also build social cohesion. We have lost the ability to have serendipitous water cooler connections, where many ideas and important conversations happened. You don’t want to overburden your people so much that they have nothing in the tank for these important get-togethers.

Executive presence is more important than ever

It’s never been more important to show up as a leader. Executive presence is how you show up. It is a powerful combination of authenticity, reliability, and confidence—the ability to inspire and influence different audiences in different situations. At the heart of presence is your ability to communicate effectively. It isn’t something you’re born with; it’s something you build with feedback and practice.