A New Year. A light at the end of a very-long tunnel. Anxious and anticipating a return to something we will recognize as being normal. This most likely describes many of us as individuals. Businesses are also anxiously looking for some semblance of normalcy that is going to need to incorporate some of the learning that has been done by organizations and its’ members for them to once again feel like they are back in the driver’s seat.
But what exactly does this mean? Businesses fortunate enough to have
been able to survive the last many months have done so operating in a changed world. Much has taken place in companies that functioned remotely. Meetings that we often a routine way of life have been greatly reduced in number and length. Communication within many organizations has been streamlined both in length and audience. To think that normal means operating as we did prior to March 2020 is to open the doors to resistance and even failure.
What is the question we must answer and what are the answers?
So, the question becomes what does effective and successful leadership require in the eventual post-COVID world? Whether leading a company, a division, a department or project team leading into the future simply must consider and recognize the various changes that the world and those in it have undergone … changes that we are not so fast to give up as well as those that need to be recognized and respected.
Here are some aspects that effective leading will need to recognize and honor:
- Recognize the need for and create new rules that govern team interaction
It may have taken several months for team members to learn how to be effective in their responsibilities and today … almost a year later … the learning has been accomplished. Things like working remotely and how to effectively communicate and interact with others has begun to work well. Leading successfully will require altering methods and ways that will honor these learned changes.
- Concern with well-being of team members moves way up on the focus scale
Expectations to simply show up and do one’s job isn’t touching the reality of todays world. Recognition of what team members might have going on outside of the job is not only needed. It will go far to generate the loyalty and commitment to the work that needs to be accomplished. Having the boss express interest and concern further aligns one the realities of today’s world.
- Invite and encourage team involvement in company or departmental decisions
Sending down decisions from the old ivory tower has gone out of fashion over time. Today, in this post-COVID world, having understanding and buy-in from the team members takes on a new importance. Seeking and receiving the opinions from them achieves a sense of buy-in at the same time it garners enthusiasm to achieve the goal simply because “I was asked and heard”.
- Being both flexible and adaptable becomes a foundation of a leadership style
If we’ve learned little else this past year it is that clearly, rigidity simply is not compatible with today’s reality. As we never imagined last March the true impact with which we would need to deal in our personal and work lives, we have, perhaps painfully, learned that the
‘best laid plans …’ are not a certainty. Thus, leaders must remain open to fact and information that may well require change … often with little notice. Accepting this as the new norm enables us to watch for it and react quickly.
- Humility is a trait that redefines what an effective leader offers … and necessary
To the extent that one interpreted being the leader as conveying the extent of one’s experience and knowledge that would get others to
willingly follow, that simply isn’t as effective going forward. Just as what COVID-19 did to most all aspects of our lives, we came to learn quickly that so much of our knowledge and experience just wasn’t applicable. It wasn’t something we could use to guide us through these turbulent waters. Effectively leading is going to require that leaders be willing learners and listeners as well
- Maintain an active eye on what is and anticipated to emerge in the future
One thing we have all come to recognize is that change can happen in the relative blink of an eye. We simply cannot presume that the plan we laid out for the year is certain to happen with dedication and effort of all those charged with the task of making it happen. Rather, going forward the leader who accepts and anticipates the real possibility of changes that will imposed on us will be better able to respond sooner and more effectively.
Without a doubt these changes in effective leadership are not the only ones. They are, however, foundational, and thus, especially important for those leading organizations, departments or teams. Although we have a light at the tunnel’s end given the development and distribution of a vaccine, there is no source saying it’s over … we’re done. Rather a key lesson that hopefully we have learned is that there is no guarantee of anything going on in our lives to be there tomorrow. To the extent we’ve learned and accepted that, we are going to retake the reins of our lives … both from a business and personal standpoint.