Leadership and New Work: Replacing Control with a New Mindset 

December 19, 2022 | Staufen Academy

Before COVID, employees were almost always physically present in the workplace. Leadership and communication took place face-to-face. Since the pandemic, the traditional workplace model has been challenged – New Work! Suddenly, employees are working in virtual teams in their home offices, and supervisors have to manage from a distance. 

Many businesses are looking to allow their employees to continue hybrid working, i.e. only being physically present at the workplace a few days a week. The digital transformation of companies, a need for greater flexibility, but also cost pressure are driving this development, as revealed by the Staufen study “Collaboration. Cooperation as the key to success”. 

Fear of Losing Authority 

This poses major challenges for companies, because the use of digital communication and planning tools alone is of little value for efficient work. Managers in particular are in great demand when it comes to New Work. Yet in one in two companies, they are concerned that home office and virtual working will diminish their authority. 

This initial reaction is understandable in part, but unfounded upon closer scrutiny. This is because the traditional authority in the leadership role is being replaced with a new attitude, allowing leadership from a distance to succeed – to the benefit of both the manager and the employees. 

New role of the leader 

“For New Work, the role of the leader must be redefined”, says Lara Schlegel, Head of Human Resources at Staufen AG. “Managers must ensure that their employees are motivated and inspired. Tasks, competencies and responsibilities must be clearly and transparently defined to empower a team to self-organize.” The majority of companies are confident that their structural change will succeed. 

This means that managers have a lot of work ahead of them: trust instead of control, empowering and developing others, being role models and shaping change – for many, this represents a major challenge. This is because they lack the right mindset for change. Yet, even managers are entitled to admit that tasks prove difficult for them. This honesty with themselves and others is an integral part of the required mindset – a prerequisite for ensuring transparency and for finding solutions by working together with others. Staufen Academy empowers leaders in their new roles with seminars on lean leadership, agile leadership, and agile working and leading. 

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