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What 20 HR Experts and 8k Leaders Taught Us about Conquering the New Normal

In this blog, SHL’s Cam Beazley discusses what we can all learn from HR experts and leaders globally to adjust to the new normal and sustain work.

Taking full advantage of our first opportunity to sit down face-to-face with 20 global HR thought leaders in almost three years, we leaped at the chance to chair the “leadership in context” roundtable during the Gartner ReimagineHR conference. This was a unique opportunity to talk with HR leaders and get a snapshot of their current business contexts and the key challenges facing their leaders. We wanted to understand the challenges their leaders are facing as we head out of the global pandemic and adjust to a “new normal”.

HR challenges in the new normal

The consensus of our group was that leaders are faced with two key challenges:

  1. Leading geographically dispersed teams
  2. Delivering under high uncertainty and ambiguity

These challenges are likely to be eerily familiar to our readers who are navigating the new normal themselves. Much of the working world has shifted to hybrid or remote working with non-collocated teams and often internationally in incredibly uncertain business environments. 

To understand which leaders thrive in these “unprecedented times”, SHL scientists called upon our extensive empirical research on leadership effectiveness. Using data from 8,674 leaders within 85 organizations and spanning 13 industries from around the world, our key findings highlighted the following:

  1. Different challenges require different types of leaders
  2. Successful leadership looks different depending on the level of the leader 

By applying these findings to the current key challenges identified within our roundtable discussions, we can highlight the types of leaders who are likely to succeed and those who could benefit from further development and support. 

A remote workforce: leading geographically dispersed teams

Another topic that was discussed was managing a remote workforce. When faced with the challenge of leading team members who are dispersed across multiple locations to function together as a team, effective first-level leaders follow rules, complete tasks as required, and show empathy, whereas effective mid and senior leaders champion their vision and forge with their own path.


Effective first-level leaders follow rules, complete tasks as required, and show empathy.


Delivering under high uncertainty and ambiguity

When challenged with leading in an environment in which roles and work are not clearly defined or that is characterized by a high degree of uncertainty, effective first-level leaders who are emotionally controlled and rule following thrive, whereas the opposite is true for mid and senior leaders, and this challenge is best met by leaders who are expressive, influential, and challenge established practices. 

Defining HR and leadership in the new normal

Having the chance to sit down and talk face-to-face with our panel of HR thought leaders was thought-provoking and refreshing after three years of socially distanced conferences. The world of work has changed dramatically over the past three years. A permanent reshuffle to remote-hybrid work models while operating in increasingly uncertain and unpredictable business environments has provided leaders with new challenges.

SHL’s extensive research in the area of leadership combined with our industry-leading Talent Management tools empowers organizations to identify which of their leaders are ready to tackle these challenges, and who might benefit from further development to thrive in the “new normal”.

Book a demo and let us help you tackle leadership challenges in the “new normal”.

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Cam Beazley

An innovative and results focused professional who has extensive technical expertise in the design, development, validation, and implementation of assessment systems that maximize business outcomes. Providing an extensive understanding of rigorous psychometric principles and next generation technology, scientific concepts are skilfully woven with proven technology into workable and valid solutions for clients.

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