Leaders Wanted: How FM Has Evolved During the Coronavirus Pandemic
COVID-19, along with diversity, equity and inclusion issues, have created opportunities for leaders to emerge.
Recent events have brought these challenges and opportunities to the forefront for facilities managers. One thing many business entities have learned with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic is that more efficiency can be obtained as it pertains to space utilization.
Simply put, with increased levels of remote working, businesses don’t need as much real estate. Coupled with this discovery is the fact that facility maintenance costs have increased with the introduction of enhanced protocols related to such practices as sanitization and housekeeping, social distancing within property space, and temperature screening. Current events in many cases also have created mental and emotional strain on workers. These are just a few of the issues we’re facing in our profession. To meet the challenges, we need extraordinary, transformational and authentic leaders as opposed to ordinary and mundane facilities managers.
Leadership expert James McGregor Burns introduced the concept of transformational leadership, which he defines as a process where "leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation." Transformational leadership has evolved into a leadership style where leaders encourage, inspire and motivate employees to innovate and create change that will help grow and shape the future success of the enterprise.
It is designed to give team members more room to be creative, look to the future and find new solutions to old problems. Transformational leadership thrives on creating more leaders. Employees on the leadership track also will be better prepared to become transformational leaders themselves through mentorship and training.
Authentic leadership is a subcategory of transformational leadership and refers to a transformational-type leader who actually believes in what he or she espouses. In his book on the subject, Bill George outlines several key attributes of what it means to be an authentic leader. Authentic leaders:
• demonstrate passion for their purpose
• practice their values consistently
• lead with their hearts, as well as their heads
• establish long term meaningful relationships
• possess self-discipline to get results
• know who they are.
In short, facility managers cannot be merely facility managers anymore. They must become authentic leaders who will take their teams into the next decade with transformative influence and power.
The outlook for the facilities management profession remains bright. With technological advancements such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and machine learning, innovation will be a key ingredient in the recipe for success and excellence. The projected increase of investment into infrastructure also will provide more opportunities. Facilities management leaders will be in demand more than ever before.
With the complexity of what the future holds, it’s imperative that not only are facilities management leaders knowledgeable in the space but are engaging. They also must be empathetic to the members of the teams they lead so they can produce positive results.
So I ask, “Are you an authentic leader?” And I challenge you to ask yourself, “Am I merely a facilities manager, or am I aspiring to be an authentic, transformative leader who is committed to excellence and successful outcomes, not only for the enterprise I belong to but for the people I influence and lead?”
If your answer to the latter question is, “Yes,” then may that commitment to authentic leadership be so contagious that it transforms our profession from the inside out.