My first leadership role was at Hewlett-Packard in the UK in the very early 90s. Back then HP led the way in terms of what might be termed ‘progressive corporate culture’. The legendary HP Way wasn’t just a document that gathered dust on the desks of HP’s management, it was a cultural approach that recognised the importance of sound leadership in the achievement of business strategy. As a young HR Manager, I was star-struck by the HP Way! It represented my first exposure to rather alien concepts like office-free workplaces, management by walking around, cascading communication and, of course, flexible working.
I saw – and experienced – firsthand the positive impact that flexible working had on employee satisfaction and motivation, and of course, on business outcomes. I became and remain a huge advocate.
Of course, much has changed in the workplace over the 30-odd years since my days at Hewlett-Packard. But what has remained constant is my view that sound leadership is grounded on the understanding of what drives individual employees. One size doesn’t fit all, and this applies to the working day (or night!) and the location, environment and hours that offer the best opportunity for our staff to do and be their best.
In my own case, I find the idea of rigid working conditions really quite horrifying! I’m an out and proud morning person. Give me a 4am start and an early finish and I’m at my very best.
The Institute of Managers and Leaders advocates for intentional leadership, and a key aspect of this is the creation of a healthy corporate culture, and flexibility lies at the very heart of this.