I think I speak for more than myself when I say that this pandemic has left an indelible mark on humankind. As we attempt to slowly move employees back into the workplace and restore some sort of “order” to working life, the reality is that people are not coming back the same people they were. Another layer to the ever-emerging challenges that leaders have to face during these times of uncertainty.
It is not business as usual – people have been impacted by this pandemic in all sorts of ways and whilst we might like everything to go back to the way it once was, that’s not going to happen. As leaders we need to be prepared to create a safe space for our team to talk about issues that have impacted them and as the role model it helps if we are prepared to acknowledge the challenges and be willing to share our own experiences. Taking these steps will create a sense of safety, build trust and increase employee engagement.
The reset – many have talked about the pandemic being an opportunity for a reset. We have long known that the old capitalist systems are not working. Margin squeeze, market share and bottom line numbers are a constant challenge for businesses in an ever losing battle. In this world of high transparency, real time information where anyone with social media has a voice, a new consumer is emerging who knows what it wants and it wants sustainably sources goods given the choice. That consumer is also our employee so listening to the voices of our employees and redefining organisational values and purpose is now a very timely action to take. Key is to insure that these values and purpose are aligned to the people and the place and become lived in everyone’s daily experience.
Drop the ego – Ego can be an obstacle to building teams and strategizing for the business. When market volatility was relatively predictable and economic fluctuations could be more of less predicted/managed, ego had its role, since usually the more senior experienced leader had the knowledge but these days we live in VUCA conditions which means that everyone’s opinion has to count. Becoming a more conscious leader, enabling collective intelligence is what’s going to cultivate more successful teams and team results going forward.
Be present – Leaders need to show up differently in our VUCA world. We need to be a beacon of light for our employees. To do that we need to be firmly grounded. We need to “do” listening well. We need to instil a sense of calm in what might be choppy waters of daily business and we need to navigate our people to new levels of thinking. We can not do this if we are the leaf flying in the wind, but only if we are the tree deeply anchored in the ground. Pursuing meditations or even breathing exercises are tools known to increase self-awareness and change state and are worth investigating.
The understanding of the role of a leader has changed dramatically in the past decade or so. A lot of confusion has previously existed between the function of a manager and that of a leader. It is now more critical than ever before that leaders step up and into their role by creating a compelling future in tandem with the members and the organisation as a whole. Leadership is a journey, it ebbs and flows and it is not for the faint hearted. Its the writers belief that the companies of the future are already gearing themselves in this way, taking actions rather than talking about what needs to be done. Those who are able to pivot and lead authentically will have huge advantage as the power of the collective to bring creativity and innovation has yet to be truly unveiled.
As an Executive Coach focusing on vertical leadership development I would with leaders on this journey. Please reach out to me if you are interested to have a conversation around this topic and to understand how I can support you in that process.