Succeeding with Hybrid Work: Focus on Five Cs







by Marine Haas




Nano Tools for Leaders® — a collaboration between Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management — are fast, effective tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes, with the potential to significantly impact your success.

The Goal

Understand and overcome the most common challenges of full-time work split between home and office.

Nano Tool

One thing is clear about the future of work: Hybrid work arrangements are becoming the norm for many organizations. And no matter the industry, the concerns involve the same five “C” challenges: communication, coordination, connection, creativity, and culture. If you’re struggling to manage a hybrid team or workforce, or your own hybrid work, start by understanding the five challenges, then use the action steps below to assess where you’re at and where to go from there. Continue reading

Three ways to prevent hybrid work from breaking your company culture



by Earl Simpkins and Varun Bhatnagar


It’s tough to maintain a cohesive culture when half of your employees—or more—regularly work from home. Specific steps can help.

Here’s a situation you might have experienced at your latest team huddle. Half of the group gathers in the conference room as the meeting is about to kick off. But your remote colleagues are busy trying to get connected, and several miss the first few minutes. The discussion gets repeatedly halted by echoes or silenced when remote employees are reminded to take themselves off mute. The conference room doesn’t have a video screen—or a functioning screen that anyone can figure out—so some people in the room dial in on their own laptops, defeating the purpose of an in-person meeting.

Many employees love hybrid work models. But this new approach to work can have a profound impact on their sense of community and connection. A Harvard Business Review study of more than 1,000 employees found that many who worked at least partially remotely felt more excluded from workplace affairs than their in-office counterparts. PwC’s Global Culture Survey 2021 found that among employees who worked from home during the pandemic, 44% found it more difficult to maintain a sense of community with their peers.

And the challenge is not going away. In PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022, 62% of respondents said they prefer some mix of in-person and remote work, and 63% said they expect their company to offer that kind of approach in the next 12 months.

Overcoming these issues and creating a cohesive culture in which employees can participate in meaningful ways regardless of whether they’re at home or in the office takes more than setting new policies. It requires that leaders take specific steps to create an environment that is connected, inclusive, and productive.

Understand your culture, and link it to explicit behaviors Continue reading

How To Prioritize 101 (With Help From Dwight D. Eisenhower)



By Frederic Kerrest
How one CEO grew a startup to a company valued at $40 billion by focusing on what was most important—a task much easier said than done.

Tien Tzuo, my Salesforce colleague and the founder of Zuora, told me a story about a friend of his who moved to a startup after working at a large Fortune 500 company. There, he’d overseen an army of people and spent his days tracking 50 separate “top” priorities.

“But now I’m in a startup,” he’d told Tien, “and I know I can’t get all 50 things done.” So he’d narrowed down his list to the 10 most important things. Soon, he discovered that even making progress on just those 10 items was beyond his abilities. He realized he only had the bandwidth to focus on two—just two.

“It was the hardest thing to let go of items 3–10,” he said, “because I knew that things were going to fall apart.” Systems would break. Customers would get mad. “But that’s the nature of a startup,” he said. “You have to focus on the things that are going to get you from Point A to Point B.”

Tien’s friend was right. There is so much coming at you in a startup that it’s easy for you to get distracted. And if you get distracted, your people will get distracted. Then it’s just a downward spiral. So you need to “keep the main thing the main thing.” Be ruthless in your prioritization. Here are some principles and practices I use to keep my priorities clear:

• Use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. This has different names, but it dates back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the top US general in Europe during World War II (before becoming the twenty-fourth US president). Eisenhower knew what it meant to make decisions under pressure. His system is very simple:

• Stuff that is neither important nor urgent? Scrap it.

• Stuff that’s not important but urgent? Give it to someone else.

• Stuff that is important but not urgent? Schedule it for later.

• Stuff that is both important and urgent? This is your area of focus. It’s the “main thing.” Make a decision, or at least start working on it.

• Keep a running to-do list. I use Evernote and Notion, and I keep them synced on all my devices: computer, phone and tablet. I revise my list several times a day because everything is always changing. Other equally great tools include Box Notes, Dropbox’s Paper and Google Keep.

• Be stingy with your calendar—very stingy. Question every meeting request. Ask yourself: Does the meeting actually need to take place? If so, do need to be involved? If so, does it really need to take 60 minutes, or can we tackle everything in 30? Be particularly wary of recurring meetings. You’re probably not needed at most of them. (Every 30 or 45 days, I go through my calendar, and delete all new recurring meetings that other people have added me to. Then I wait to see how many people send me those invitations again, after they notice I’m not attending. Spoiler alert: very few.)

• Control your email; don’t let it control you. Email is what other people want you to do. Ignore most of it. A lot are just FYIs. If you’ve hired great people, you don’t need to follow the play-by-play. Maggie Wilderotter, the former CEO of Frontier Communications, told me that she deletes every email that has more than two people on the “To” line, as well as every one where she’s cc’d. “Then what bubbles up to me are the really critical decisions or ones where I need to move something forward or course correct,” she says. “Otherwise, I trust the people who work for me to get the job done.” Another tactic: I block off two hour- long sessions on my calendar for email: one in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. Usually, by the time I get around to whatever burning issue has been sitting in my inbox, it’s already been resolved.

• Keep your people focused. Your team will come to you and start talking about five different things. Make them decide what their top two most important things are and then talk about those. When my team starts wandering, I bring them back and ask them: “What’s the main thing?”

• Ditch your 1:1s. Most managers hold regular check-in meetings with their direct reports (often called one-on-one’s or “1:1” for short). But Zuora’s Tien Tzuo says he doesn’t do them. Ever. Let me repeat that: the founder and CEO of a $3 billion company doesn’t have regular 1:1 meetings with his senior executives. Tien estimates that such meetings can quickly consume 80 percent of his week, which he doesn’t think is the best use of anyone’s time. “I just tell my executives, ‘If you need me, call me. And if I need you, I’ll call you,’” he says. Which makes sense. If you hired great people, why wouldn’t you trust them to do a great job running their groups? Plus, Tien says his approach actually makes Zuora work more effectively. The 1:1 system ends up producing what he calls a “hub-and-spoke” approach to solving problems. “Everything is brought to you instead of your leaders working out issues among themselves,” Tien says.

Source: Chief Executive 

What’s most needed from managers now



by Adam Bryant

As organizations shift from command-and-control leadership to more decentralized decision-making, the “frozen middle” is melting—and managers have to step up.

At the risk of generalizing, I find that managers typically fall into one of two camps—those who are most comfortable following a playbook that rarely changes, and those who relish the idea of writing a new one for their job. And in this era of endless disruption and ambiguity, the managers who will get ahead are the ones who see this time as an opportunity, not a headache.

Companies are pushing more decision-making to their frontline managers, who in turn have to step up and make some tougher judgment calls. As just one example, Amazon announced in late 2021 that instead of issuing a company-wide policy on in-person work, its directors would decide which days their teams needed to be in the office.

These new freedoms—or pressures—will create a difficult period of adjustment for the managers who contribute to their company’s “frozen middle.” That is the term for the group of managers who are the most resistant to change, and who are an endless source of frustration for C-suite leaders trying to implement a transformation strategy. A CEO I know once said shortly after joining a company that “there are too many policemen here,” referring to those employees who felt their job was to blow the whistle on anything that fell outside their that’s-not-how-we-do-things-around-here guardrails. The optimist in me would like to think that as decision-making becomes more decentralized, managers can no longer afford to have that attitude.

Handling hybrid

One example in which managers will need to become leaders: when managing culture in a hybrid world. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Companies are still trying to find the right balance between remote and in-person work, and the best answer is likely different depending on how much collaboration the work requires. Continue reading










Early in the pandemic, Josh Bersin called it the Big Reset: “The Coronavirus is accelerating one of the biggest business transformations in decades.”

As the business landscape evolves and employees reassess their priorities, leadership is changing as well. To reset thinking on what it means to be a leader today, we asked other thought and business leaders for their perspective. This is the third in our series.


One of the key factors found in “Great Leaders” that is frequently under emphasized is Teamwork. My experience is that building great teams, then developing and enabling them to work together is rarely evaluated when selecting leaders. A leader that takes advantage of the variety of their team’s skill sets, then getting those same team members to work together toward a common goal almost always results in success. At almost every level of my career, I witnessed teamwork skills were undervalued by many leaders. Be a great “team player” and a great “team leader” to greatly increase your odds of business success.”

-Charles Ansley, President and CEO, Symon Communications (Retired)


Great leadership is centered around empathy.  Empathy for your clients and the challenges they face.  Empathy for your people and their individual needs.  If you can truly step into your key stakeholders’ shoes and empathize with their vision of great, all else falls into place.

-Eugene M. Kublanov, Principal, KPMG Consulting


A great leader will inspire others to fly. That inspiration comes from a building of trust through communicating a vision, being accountable for it, and making the people your focus.

-Steve Rudderham, Head of Global Business Services at AkzoNobel


Leadership is having an optimistic vision for the future, envisioning the possibilities of what could be, and then being able to communicate it in a compelling enough way that others want to follow you there.” (It’s really the combination of the two skills, –first having the vision and second having the ability to describe it in a compelling way that others can get excited about).

-Kathy F. Bernhard, KFB Leadership Solutions


Here are links to the previous blogs:

Leadership – ISSG

Leadership – ISSG


If you’re inspired by these perspectives on leadership today, stay tuned…there’s more to come!  And if you are interested in crafting your own contribution, please email me at