4 Leadership Lessons That Should Outlast the Pandemic
In the current scenario, a leader's effectiveness will be measured by cultivating shared goals and persuading their team to work towards a collective goal
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James Lane Allen has rightly said: "Adversity does not build character, it reveals it."
The pandemic-led contingencies have reaffirmed the need for leaders to lead with purpose rather than just "manage'. In the current scenario, a leader's effectiveness will be measured by cultivating shared goals and persuading their team to work towards a collective goal.
The last 20 months have been a steep learning curve to meet the moment and support my team as a leader. I have distilled a few lessons that I have learnt into traits that a leader must possess to brave the tides today and succeed in the long run.
The most potent antidote to the present climate of uncertainty is "honesty without any shadow of vagueness'. This becomes especially crucial when people are exposed to several sources of misinformation. It is true that the events around might not always be positive and can be distressing. However, your employees are much better off if they are updated on factual details and the company's steps to navigate through the same. Being honest also means admitting when you have limited or no knowledge about an issue or event in question. Employees respect and look up to a leader ready to dispel misleading data, offer them the true picture from a credible source, and own up to their limitations.
The pandemic has not been easy on anyone. The chances are that your employee must be struggling on their personal front – not just in adjusting to the blurred lines between work and life, but coping with the loss of loved ones, caring for someone sick or the fear of being infected themselves. While you may not alleviate their concerns, you can provide them with a nurturing work environment. A few ways to achieve this is by encouraging your teams to create and participate in support groups, providing seamless access to mental health services, and offering greater flexibility and autonomy at work.
It is almost irresponsible for a leader to assume that they can get the job done by themselves. As a leader, every important decision that you make impacts the organisation and its people. There is no silver bullet that can resolve all the challenges. However, it is helpful to bring your team together and let them voice out their opinions. Often, the most insightful and creative solutions come from the most unexpected sources. So, encourage your teams to collaborate in the decision-making process actively and ask them how they feel about it to ensure that you consider their emotional alignment. Make sure that you are approachable to your team members and have a forum for discussion that circumvents hierarchy.
The success of a business hinges on its flexibility and adaptability. You have to be willing to revoke the "rigid, old' ways, quickly align to the new, digitised way of operations and learn fast. Work closely with your teams on-ground to determine what your customers need and let that data inform your decisions. It will be prudent to analyse the market trends and policy regulations to proactively optimise your operations rather than implement short-term, reactive changes.
ConclusionWhile you are potentially navigating through more challenges than you have in your entire career, it is essential to acknowledge your humanity as well. This is not easy on your employees, and it is not easy on you either. Ensure that you take that much-needed time off and space to recuperate and compose yourself. Feel free to express your concerns to your team. They will be more likely to understand your decisions and respect your perspectives in the future. Leadership is not about being right all the time. It is about building a community and fostering a culture of openness and honesty.