The Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) report noted that remote work will likely become the new normal after it has been proven that employees not only maintain productivity while remote but often surpass output expectations.
According to GWA, a typical employer can save about $11,000 a year for every employee who works remotely half the time.
Gartner says hybrid workforce models are evolving the value proposition of the office versus other work locations.
What qualities would leaders need to push further ahead of others to harness this newfound productivity and acceptance of remote working? FutureCIO spoke to four executives from The Great Room for their respective thoughts. These include:
- Jaelle Ang – co-founder and CEO at The Great Room
- Jasmine Koh – director of People Experience
- Selin Demir – general manager at The Great Room, Thailand
- Tina Herms McAfee – general manager at The Great Room, Hong Kong
What is your definition of leadership?
Jaelle Ang: Leadership is about being comfortable about being very uncomfortable. If someone is in a position of leadership, the minute you figure out something, you would no sooner need to be learning a new domain and solving a bigger problem.
The hard part of leadership is not setting big audacious goals, it’s having to lay off people when you miss those goals. The hard part of leadership is not building and driving teams when the mission is clear, it’s galvanizing everyone when you don’t know the answer.Jaelle Ang
Being willing to hold onto this job when you don’t have to is leadership.
Jasmine Koh: Leadership is the art of motivating people. Having the wisdom to make the right decisions and having the ability to influence and inspire people with their vision. Leadership requires the needed chemistry to build successful teams and have the tools in achieving the goals and vision.
Tina Herms McAfee: To me, leadership is being able to continuously inspire and motivate a team, especially during the most uncertain of times. I believe that great leaders help their team to see and understand more, they inspire them to become more and motive them to do more.
As a leader, I hope to be part of each individual’s unique professional journey and to help them become the very best version of themselves.
What qualities make up a good leader?
Jaelle Ang: Yesterday’s stereotype of a good leader or manager no longer works. Hollywood’s tall, handsome and chiselled or Silicon Valley’s ‘ Nerd is King’ portrayal is also limited. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Today, a good leader needs to be uniquely and insanely good at something and then they have an intense curiosity and will to learn.
I call it being ‘a maverick learner’ - fast, flexible and habitual. It almost does not matter where you start, it’s how fast you learn and can galvanize those around you to learn. Discipline, a blue-collar work ethic, showing up with your best self, every day and the thirst to learn from the right field-tested experts can get you very far.
Jasmine Koh: A good leader should base his or her growth on personal development, leading by example, inspire, and emphasis on authentic and effective communication towards better teamwork.
Selin Demir: I believe perseverance, patience and flexibility are fundamental characteristics in a good leader. Persevering in your goals, be patient when it takes more time and be flexible in adapting to new situations or obstacles you face with an open mind.
Tina Herms McAfee: The modern-day leader is no longer someone who simply sets the agenda, lays out a team's objectives and who checks in to ensure everything is on track. The modern leader is someone who dares to take a leap of faith, takes the time to listen and understand that they don’t know everything. The modern-day leader is … curious, courageous, empathic, and authentic!
In your experience, does gender play any role in determining a good leader?
Jaelle Ang: A good leader can be any gender, age, race, inclinations. A good leader solves the right problems. There are no finance, marketing or product problems; there are only ever people problems.
We don’t learn how to solve ‘people’ in business school... But the leaders who can crack that can solve any problem. It’s that simple and it’s that hard. And sometimes, society does hold the belief that women - with our listening, empathy and collaborative nature - tend to have an easier time-solving people problems.
With COVID-19 still among us, how is this impacting the kind of leadership expected by a business? By its people? By its partners and customers?
Jaelle Ang: I was falsely thinking that the management of the pandemic was a finite game we had to win. When we were into the second month of lockdown, I thought I was solving to have positive cash flow for the months to come. I spent evenings poring over spreadsheets, contracts and tactics, preparing for difficult conversations with stakeholders.
Months on, it struck me that this crisis is a shape-shifting, forward and backwards, infinite round of games. We may or may not know when the whistle blows. Focusing on cash flow is like focusing only on the scoreboard — and not on each pass or each play.
For a co-working company, which is home to the largest corporates and most enterprising technology companies, while cash flow is important, it is also “the scoreboard” and not the biggest problem to solve. We should be busy designing for greater trust and deeper connection.
Whether members trust us, our protocols, our integrity and the community they are part of will determine if they want to continue to be part of The Great Room through the pandemic and beyond. Human connection is primal and instinctive.
Designing for higher-quality interactions and meaningful experiences, which lead to deeper connections, means candid conversations have a better chance of being fruitful. In the poignant words of Ernest Hemingway: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”.
What is that one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Jasmine Koh: Being optimistic and talk with positivity. Positive vibes invite pleasant energy to be around you. This provides a better atmosphere for both employees and management to create stronger relations with better communications.
Selin Demir: Embrace that dose of genuine humility. We’ve all woken up many times wondering if we’re up to the job today, understanding that this isn’t just you. Other leaders have faced this too. Embracing humility allowed me to listen more and seek help which becomes engaging and eventually puts me on a path to better decision making.
Tina Herms McAfee: A key leadership lesson I’ve learnt, is that great leaders are always looking for ways to improve, grow and learn. They are resilient and they persevere; willing to stumble & fall over and over again. They know when to talk and lead, but also know when to step back and listen!
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Jasmine Koh: Trusting your voice. Female leaders should have the confidence and wisdom to break internal and external barriers and boundaries through communicating their ideas. Great ideas are not gender-specific.
Selin Demir: Be bold, be daring and present yourself, by yourself- don’t wait to be seen. We need to be proactive in our career paths and not let others pave our way but rather allow them space in our path to help you get there.
Tina Herms McAfee: My advice to younger women setting out to take on leadership positions is to show initiative, take on risks out of your comfort zone and always challenge yourself to do & be better. Trust your gut, know your ‘true north’ and stand by them relentlessly. Finally, find your allies and let them help and support you!