How leadership will change post Covid-19: 10 ways to get fighting fit…

Although businesses face logistical and financial hurdles as we plan to come out on the ‘other side’ of Covid-19, make the most of enforced downtime to plan for new and better ways of 

operating in the future. Think culture, flexibility, leadership, wellbeing, learning, community, digital, communication and the employee experience…

For some time before the virus, the concept of ‘disruptive business’ was dancing around all of us, with some embracing it and others still with their heads in the sand. Covid-19 has exploded this, rewriting the rules of how leadership will work in the future. Despite the challenges, many of them logistical and financial, for the way things are done in business, this enforced reset has, in the longer term, got to be a good thing. As long as you’re equipped to deal with it…

  1. Culture: being clear about your purpose (why we’re here), your values (what you stand for) and how things are done around here (behaviours) is even more vital for the future. People are now going to be more discerning going forward; less tolerant to ambiguity, inauthenticity and mediocrity. If your cultural definitions aren’t genuine and clear, lockdown is the perfect time to come together virtually and have the debate. That way you can be ready with a new clarity and simplicity. Purple Cubed are ace at facilitating these discussions – contact us here if you need a hand.  
  2. Flexibility: post Covid-19 there will not only be a new understanding of and respect for working remotely; people will expect it, having now experienced some of the benefits and proved that they can be trusted to get on with things at their own pace and in their own way. They’ve learned new ways to collaborate and work with those best suited for the task at hand. This will bring about a long awaited and much needed change from measuring inputs to measuring outputs. Workers of the world, having breathed a collective sigh of relief, will not want to go back to a standardised approach and command and control management. Entrepreneur, Glenn Llopis, writing in Forbes recently commented “Standardisation creates efficiency, and that was a fine goal in a world where things were predictable. But efficiency is not resilient. Resilience requires adaptability, and adaptability requires the freedom for people to be their most individual selves – to be themselves to the fullest”. Start thinking now about how you’ll respond. 
  3. Leadership: Aside from the collapse of command and control, traditional hierarchies and silos, Covid-19 has brought about a recalibration of the way people expect to be led and therefore how leadership will operate in the future. The virus has placed an emphasis on trust, resilience, the ability to listen, adapt and decide fast, on social conscience and on the ability to communicate clearly and simply, on employee care and empathy. It’s nothing new that some of these, perhaps, softer skills are required of today’s leader though many have, so far, chosen to evade the issue. People will never forget how you made them feel during this crisis, and they’ll expect you to keep doing it. It’s time to learn from the current situation and use what you’ve learned to recalibrate in readiness for the brave new world. Here’s some good advice from Deloitte.  
  4. Wellbeing: Everyone knows that happy, healthy people are more engaged and productive, though the emphasis has gone far beyond peripheral support as the focus on wellbeing of employees catapulted to the top of the priority list in unprecedented times. Here are some tips for defending employee wellbeing and creating a wellbeing strategy. If yours isn’t up to scratch, you now have the time to put that right. And to help, we’ll soon be launching Wellbee – an exciting new tool to enable individuals to assess their own wellbeing and find the support they need via personalised recommendations.  
  5. Learning: it seems most of the nation is on a learning kick at the moment and discovering MOOCs for just about everything. We’ve been writing for a long time about on demand learning, where people can access what they need to learn as and when they need it. Sites such as CourseraMindtools and LinkedIn Learning can help here. It’s not just about online tools, though. Learning and development professionals will shift from being creators and deliverers of content to creators and collators of content. Classroom delivery will, in the main, be aimed at facilitation and teaching people to think, so they can make business improvements using their ‘front-line’ experience and know how. This is the perfect time to revolutionise your learning and development strategy.  
  6. Community: whilst we’ve always been a nation of givers, during Covid-19 many people have newly discovered the joys of volunteering, fundraising and supporting others. Whilst younger generations have, generally, been more motivated to ‘give back’ and are more compelled to contribute to society and the planet, there’s a more universal emphasis on doing good now and this is likely to continue when we emerge ‘on the other side’. Organisations that pay lip service to corporate social responsibility will come under scrutiny as the drive for robust and impactful ways of getting involved with the community and doing more to support others takes hold. Again, a perfect time to review your approach to CSR and how you’ll enable your people to keep on contributing after the crisis has passed. Aside from donations and sponsorship, ideas include encouraging and supporting your people to volunteer, sharing knowledge/mentoring, community-based team events, phone support for the vulnerable etc. 
  7. Digital: the enormous strides made in the last ten years were speedy and significant though the recent situation has thrust us all into mega-drive. People have realised the importance of using ‘consumer grade tech tools’ and in future will expect nothing less. They’ve realised the futility of manual processes when digital is faster, simpler and more robust. This is an excellent time to review key metrics – what’s essential and fit for purpose and what’s there because of legacy. And then to consider the best way to produce those metrics given the possibilities now available. Simplify, tighten up, digitise.  
  8. Thinking time: By now people will have fully realised the benefits of having time to think. So many people are in reactive roles (or allow themselves to be), whizzing from one challenge to the next without taking adequate time to reflect, regroup and recalibrate. They spend so much time in meetings and travelling to and from meetings. In the main, unless you’re a key worker or otherwise on the front line, in which case, thank you, the current crisis has allowed more time to complete less outputs. It’s given more time to think things through. And the stretch of having to do things differently has driven people to consider the options instead of doing what’s always been done. Plan thinking time into the day to day in future and unleash the untapped creativity needed to get ahead.  
  9. Communication: Most, if not all, businesses have stepped up the way in which they communicate with their people, keeping them informed, asking for their feedback and listening to their ideas during the current crisis. Many have been arranging regular check-ins, ensuring clarity and consistency of communication. Rather than being bombarded with messages from many sources, there’s been a cleaner, clearer approach which has been appreciated. Employees have valued this approach and will expect to continue to be kept informed in this way. It’s time to reflect on how this clarity can be maintained and evolved.   
  10. Employee experience: it’s clear that, on the whole, far more consideration has been given to supporting employees, albeit remotely. This shouldn’t change with the eventual return to work. Some thought should be given now to what the ‘new normal’ will look like and how organisations can maintain and enhance the standards of employee care that have been apparent throughout the current crisis. 

What is clear is that we’re not going back to ‘business as usual’ anytime soon. Once you’ve worked out how to navigate the immediate logistical and financial challenges, increase your chances of succeeding and emerging better and stronger by using this time to reflect on and plan your ‘reset’. It’s the smart thing to do… 

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