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Why the remote work revolution should squash the stigma surrounding ‘part-time’ leaders

In today’s remote work environment, companies aren’t necessarily looking for employees that will put in the most hours possible; they want the best talent out there. Companies might be unable to afford full-time access to qualified higher-level executives, but they can still benefit from fractional leadership from these savvy business minds.

Mark Thacker

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Before the pandemic, it would have been difficult to imagine that some companies would completely shift from in-office setups to remote work in a matter of months. Few people would have believed entire industries would be able to move online or that businesses could so quickly pivot their operational models to work in a remote, quarantined world. This workplace transformation accomplished in six months what could have easily taken six years or more — it also demonstrated the importance of business flexibility.

Many of my company’s clients assumed they couldn’t manage their sales teams remotely and that they couldn’t sell virtually in an effective manner. As is the case with most assumptions, they weren’t validated; they were the “head trash” that comes with guessing what is and isn’t possible before actually testing beliefs. People still have needs during pandemics and recessions, and the presentation and delivery of solutions to those needs must be virtual.

Just as the forced quarantine pushed businesses to take the plunge into evolving workplace environments, it should also inspire us to consider the evolution of leadership.

Redefining and reimagining leadership

This evolution starts with redefining how we view leadership. Some companies opted to hire fractional leadership (i.e., recruiting business leaders on a for-hire basis rather than hiring permanent executives) because they decided the old way of doing things wasn’t enough. They had evolving needs, and they were ready to evolve their corporate structure to keep pace.

Some companies have objected to the idea of fractional leadership, claiming leaders can’t be effective if they spend only a portion of their time in the leadership role. On the contrary, we’ve seen a surge in companies using fractional resources. According to data from GigX, there is expected to be an 80% increase in companies using fractional staff by 2025. Companies might be unable to afford full-time access to qualified higher-level executives, but they can still benefit from fractional leadership from these savvy business minds.

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The fewer the hours, the deeper the focus. Even if fractional leaders work fewer hours overall, they spend all of that time devoted to specific departments and goals—not distracted by a litany of other company issues.

And in today’s remote environment, companies aren’t necessarily looking for employees that will put in the most hours possible; they want the best talent out there. After all, poor hiring decisions can be extremely costly. Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh famously estimated that bad hires had cost his company more than $100 million.

Ultimately, companies that hire fractional leaders save on the costs of developing leaders and making up for knowledge gaps. Considering the global investment in leadership development is estimated to be more than $370 billion, those savings add up in a hurry.

Specialists are the new jacks-of-all-trades

Society as a whole has started to move away from generalists and more toward specialists. For example, HR management roles have shifted from personnel management and administrative tasks to specialist functions of learning, rewards, and talent acquisition.

The evolution of leadership continues to show a departure from traditional views and roles — a progression that aligns with the significant upheavals and workplace transformations of 2020. Contemporary businesses must embrace the importance of flexibility in business instead of locking themselves into archaic leadership models that do more harm than good. The ability to evolve has never been more critical, and now is the time to get started.

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(Featured image by Joshuamiranda via Pixabay)

DISCLAIMER: This article was written by a third party contributor and does not reflect the opinion of Born2Invest, its management, staff or its associates. Please review our disclaimer for more information.

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Mark Thacker is the president of Sales Xceleration, a firm specializing in sales strategy, process, and execution. Mark has a 33-year history of sales leadership and success in diverse industries. Mark is the author of “Beyond the Mountaintop: Observations on Selling, Living, and Achieving,” which not only recounts his trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro but also highlights the sales and leadership best practices that he has learned throughout his career.