Good leadership in the post-pandemic world
According to Forbes, the true value of a high-performing team and the effectiveness of its leader become all the more visible during major disruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic. A team’s resilience is characterised by its ability to pivot, rebound and continually innovate its way out of an impossible situation. In reference to a leadership style, the acronym ‘A.G.I.L.E.’, Forbes states, produces an “approachable, grounded, innovative, leveraging and empathic” leader. These are arguably non-negotiable characteristics that leaders today need to demonstrate if their teams are to survive the impacts of COVID-19.
Let’s break it down.
Approachable aka ‘is friendly and easy to talk to’
Good leaders appreciate that great ideas can come from anyone. It is therefore important for you to operate with an approachable attitude during times of disruption and uncertainty. Team members need to feel that they can come to you with ideas or concerns.
Grounded aka ‘is honest, well balanced and sensible’
It is crucial for leaders to lead transparently by being honest so that the team can get a more complete view of any disruptions that the organisation may be facing. Honesty, along with sensible and unemotional responses help a team to better react to and solve the challenges of any particular situation – confidence is gained through clarity.
Innovative aka ‘is advanced and original’
Facilitate growth by encouraging creativity and originality – this builds healthy team morale. Innovation is necessary for an organisation to remain relevant and to thrive in a competitive business environment. As a leader you should create an environment that stimulates and rewards creative thinking.
Leverager aka ‘can get more done with less’
As the pandemic has pressured so many businesses to tighten budgets, leaders must maximise resources, and this often involves leveraging the talents already present within the team. Together your team needs to embrace new ways of using technology and other unconventional work styles in order to do more with less. Incentivise team members to rise to the challenge and you may uncover existing talents that you never knew they had. You may even find that team members volunteer for certain roles outside their current work scope.
Empathetic aka ‘an ability to understand and share the feelings of another’
Whether pre, during or post-COVID, a strong leader always displays empathy and prioritises the wellbeing of their team members. This is a good time for you to prove to your employees that you value them as people and that you understand the challenges their jobs and personal lives present. Showing empathy usually results in loyalty and a higher level of performance.
But is that all that it takes to be a good leader?
Contrary, the Renoir Group suggests that there is no “best” leadership style and that leadership requires flexibility and the willingness to evolve. Taking into account the uncertainty created by COVID-19 and the complete change it has brought about within the workforce, it is imperative that leadership strategies also change to meet the needs of current times. Good leadership is proactive leadership. Proactive leadership is flexible leadership. Flexibility in turn produces multiple ways to optimise your labour force. As a leader you need to be able to inspire, to explore all avenues available and provide a sense of security for those you are leading. Reigning in the troops by being a source of stability during a pandemic is especially key to the success and sustainability of a company’s success.
Further, low morale as a result of pandemic-anxiety, personal matters or general unhappiness within a company is not something a good leader should accept. Companies don’t take care of employees, the leaders inside that company do.
This is what good leadership looks like in a post-pandemic world
Navigating the world in itself during such uncertain times has seen many families and individuals hopeless and helpless. Snap lockdowns, impending new waves of COVID-19 infection cases, a fluctuating economy leading to job insecurity and higher daily expenses, the day-to-day difficulties of living, working from home, surviving with or without familial support, current personal struggles and possibly the loss of a loved one, all contribute to the functionality of an individual, which in turn, affects an entire team.
The Harvard Business Review suggests that poor leadership has a direct impact on employee mental health and might be triggering occupational anxiety disorders. For most, The KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) released a report that suggests the feeling of impending doom and uncertainty due to COVID-19 has seen an increase in anxiety disorders and depressive episodes amongst people across the
age and labour spectrum and thus affects the greater workforce altogether. People desperately need to feel mentally, emotionally and physically safe in their work environment.
Without the security of an empathetic, supportive leader, workers tend to be less productive. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that humanity must prevail to preserve our sanity: Humanity cannot be absent in the workforce, or it will lose the enthusiasm, loyalty and productivity of the worker.
Retaining talent does not only depend on an increase in cheques or benefits, but it also depends highly on the way people feel in their places of work.
In fact, according to Guthrie Jensen, a leading consultancy group, the happier and more grounded employee is 12% more productive, whereas an unhappy, demotivated and discouraged employee is 10% less productive, lacks creativity, determination and generally loses the vigour to succeed. The illustration below shows ways in which employees will show a lack of zest.
In order for leaders in any industry to succeed in a post-pandemic world, they must employ a new sense of humaneness unlike before. Prioritising employees is central to productivity and creativity. Good leaders in a post-pandemic world can leverage their organisations to become industry leaders as world economies and industries begin to open up. The key to success at this time is your employees.