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Dear colleagues,

I am thrilled to share with you the next article of our RAHM Leadership Council communication blog.

Before, we have talked about LGBTIQ+ leadership in general, what new impulses it can bring to common processes and interactions and especially about the role of LGBTIQ+ leaders in PRIDE month months and beyond. How to be role models and critically see behind the curtain of the inflationary use of rainbow flags and symbols without a clear D&I strategy which is intended to make a notable impact for the community members in transversal business areas.

As initiated by Peter Kakucska from UHLALA group, the focus of this recent article will be LGBTIQ+ leadership and new work, working relocated or even abroad and flexible working models. On first sight, new work with all its possibilities to work remotely, work from everywhere in the world and effectively lead teams virtually, to name a few examples, offers a lot of new opportunities. We all know that this “revolution” of work was mainly triggered by the corona pandemic, which forced companies and businesses to rethink their usual working models to be able to keep the business running. This tremendous mindset change would have taken time by a multiple under “normal” circumstances. This change was also accompanied by a lot of prejudices and bias. Let´ face it- we all have bias, it is a normal evolutionary mechanism to protect us from possible harm due to changes- Now there´s the “BUT”: as educated people, we should be able to evaluate the situation caused by the change and evaluate possible risks in a balanced way, looks at data in reality and make the right conclusion- not every change is a threat to our existence or will make our world crush”. This is good news, isn´t it?

The prejudices with regards to new work were various. You could hear that people in home office behave like on vacation, family mums and dads are only part-time workers as they spent more times with their children than with the actual work and that managers need to have their teams on-site to be able to control and follow-up on the team’s goals, because people need to be fully controlled to be effective.

The new reality showed a completely different picture. All over the world, people worked remotely and kept businesses and processes running, critical infrastructure could be maintained and even break-through developments in technology could be realized due to creativity and a high-level team spirit to go extra miles. Additionally, the pandemic gave a massive push of digital working spaces and abilities to digitally interact with others. Out of the sudden, digital tools could be created and implemented, which you normally wait years for. And these are only a few of the new (technical) opportunities that came up.

All opportunities of course have their limitations. For example, science showed that a team cannot work completely remote as the human interaction is an important factor for team building and connectedness. It´s not only the “WHAT” we do, the “HOW” is equally important or even more important, as we are humans and no robots. Virtual leadership is a good example of changing the “How”, but cannot replace the direct contact to team members, face-to-face feedback and social after work gatherings. It´s also mandatory to set up new rules for the virtual interaction, not to negatively effect the team´s interaction.

The same question arises for “mobile office- work from wherever you want”. On one hand side it looks inviting to work from wherever you want, or your employer wants. This obvious flexibility also has another side of the coin. I case of LGBTIQ+ community members and leaders it is not all the same where you work in the world. If you cannot choose by yourself, the place of work can be a significant challenge or even a threat. We must keep in mind that in some areas or countries of this world being part of the queer community can be life-threatening. Even in Germany there are areas where a possible risk of an attack is higher than in others- there are also reports of LGBTiQ+ hostile incidents even in big cities like Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Berlin, which should keep us, as the whole society, alarmed. So, the decision for an alternative place of work sometimes is not that easy. LGBTIQ+ leaders can be forced into difficult decision-making situations with regards to location of the work, especially in internationally working companies, it is even more difficult if you are not OUT at work, and you cannot talk about the background of your concerns.

“New Work” is more than home office, new digital opportunities and flexible working locations. It is also putting the focus back on the employee. Another learning from the corona pandemic was, we need to feel safe and comfortable in our environment. We deeply recognized the value of having good colleagues, friends and family. Especially in times of segregation and lock-down we stayed connected and supported each other mentally. This is also a key aspect of “New Work”, even the most important one. We are socialized human beings, we need to interact personally, and this contact should be on a high level of respect, value driven mindset and by integrating individual needs. If you want your team members to be happy, you need to be aware of the people behind the job title and function. You must understand what their personal drivers are and what can motivate them. And this must be authentic- if you are starting interviews to try to get that information you will fail in case your team members have the feeling you just ask them out of purpose without a real interest in them as individual persons.

So “New Work” is also coming back to see the ones who are responsible for all of our successes- PEOPLE! This brings me back to Diversity Management- because the goal of all D&I activities is to make people feel inclusive, to have a safe place to be the best version of themselves, to be able to use all their talents and creativity without worrying about discrimination and just to be individually valued for who they are! LGBTIQ+ leaders can make the difference here- because they know what needs to be done to create spaces around us, what makes one feel comfortable and safe and the individual life stories with all positive and negative experiences can help to avoid making feel people excluded and bring back leadership based on empathy- sometimes you just must learn to listen!

To summarize – every change has it´s two sides which need to be equally assessed! There are possibilities and risks- but the good news is- we are able to make decisions! Sometimes decisions are not easy but need to be done. Sometimes we would decide in another way if circumstances would be different. In total “New Work” offered a lot of new opportunities to us and we have the power to lead these changes, because everyone out there is part of this change and brings input by individual talents and creativity. It not a passive change, its our responsibility as leaders to actively contribute to it! And within the RAHM Leadership Council we have a lot of ambitious colleagues who can be contacted for advice or support, with our individual life stories and experience.

All in all, my experience is that LGBTIQ+ leaders are highly creative and full of energy. “New Work” can be a good chance to use these talents and to utilize the energy from a changing wind to become visual and to get a stronger voice. People all over the world taught business- with the full power of diversity- that we are more than our office time- we can make magic happen!

Have a great day and let LGBTIQ+ magic happen everyday – Yours, David.

Let us know, if you have special topics in mind we should cover in this column or you want to give us general feedback. Be invited to contact us! See you next time…

About the writer

David Holthöwer is a member of the RAHM Leadership Council. Working as an Associate Director Pharmacist in Hesse (Germany), he is part of the Communication Committee of our Council.

Know more about the RAHM Leadership Council here.