We were all excited about 2020 and the future of work, new projects, and new dreams. And then came COVID-19. Needless to say, it has influenced the entire industry sector. A ton has changed for us; remote working, decentralization, changing workplace culture, and communication methods are just some initial impacts, and more is yet to come.
Being a successful leader is never easy. They need to exhibit some really effective leadership qualities that help them achieve more significant goals and targets. But leading in the new normal has got even more demanding. Sustainable success for a company depends on leaders transitioning from normal to new normal leadership.
What are the key traits or qualities that are required for leaders to lead in the new normal? It is, probably, now a million-dollar question.
If you’re a leader in your company or someone with leadership ambitions, here are five traits that you will need to take in for managing the new normal and emerging more robust, more compassionate, and more reflective.
- Look beyond the crisis.
It is evident that what has happened over the past few months has had a significant effect on organizations as we advance. It’s time to step beyond crisis management and look ahead to each organization’s future. As a leader, the willingness to look past daily organizational problems is the key. Low employee engagement today, for instance, is likely to trigger a potential rise in turnover. A leader looking to foresee problems will recognize the risk of employee turnover and take steps to boost employee engagement before it becomes a severe crisis.
In times like these, it is incredibly necessary not just to communicate but to over-communicate. Do not wait for employees to reach out to you; initiate conversations. People look for information and ought to have empathy. Therefore, aside from sharing data on the everyday circumstance, asking your group how they are getting along, and offering to help in any capacity, you can go far towards eliminating forlornness and disarray that can set in rapidly.
On the other hand, it also means leaving room for others to speak up. For example, before ending a Zoom meeting, one can ask, “Does anyone have any question?” or say, “I look forward to your valuable suggestions.” It doesn’t just empower employees to feel their opinions matter, but also enable leaders to know where to improve.
It’s also a perfect opportunity for HR to help leaders ensure they walk the walk while showing concern for the employees’ wellbeing. They should help the leaders find ways to keep ties and develop a new sense of resilience. Now is the time to express concern for employees and their families’ adapting to life during COVID-19, not just the business. A small gesture can go a long way.
Amidst all the uncertainties, share what you know, and be frank about what you know and what you don’t. Stan Sewitch, vice president of global organization development at WD-40 Company in San Diego, agrees that proactive communication is the need of the hour. He said, “Say what you know, what you don’t know, and what you are committed to doing. That’s as good as it can get to create confidence in leadership.”
- Engage in microlearning
In the new normal, leaders have to lead with microlearning as the only way forward, with technology as the primary interface. E-books, podcasts, videos, articles can be a part of the online learning portfolio other than on the job learning. The biggest challenge for leaders will be to keep the sessions exciting and learners engaged.
It will call in the importance of gamification and other means of interacting with the audience for a wholesome experience. It’s time for leaders to think about the existing skills and what skills they need for the future. Accordingly, organizations need to help people develop through upskilling and reskilling. Leaders should also consider the learner’s mental space for remote working and the different roles that the individual is expected to play.
- Recognize (that everyone plays an important role)
An organization comprises of people at all levels- from executives to CEOs – working for a common goal. All these people have one common trait. They give their best when they are recognized and encouraged. Robert E. Quinn’s Optimistic Organization says it begins by seeing the best in each individual and recognizing their abilities. It is how leaders can take another step into the new normal- acknowledging that everyone has an important role to play in creating an organizational culture that recognizes the integrity of all employees.
- Be more human
While organizations and leaders worldwide are working to build a new paradigm and get life back to normal, one factor is still out of reach in this increasingly unpredictable situation. It is the uncertainty faced by employees who are dealing with difficult choices between family security and organizational commitment. However, there are a lot of things that leaders and employers can do to help staff navigate the work from home situation.
With employees’ increasing sense of fear and anxiety, leaders and especially HR leaders will need to follow new approaches to build a supportive and stable environment where workers will flourish. Leaders need to be more human and start sharing concerns, develop new ways to help employees cope with their fears. Feedback and suggestions, open dialogue, and communication must be a priority. A renewed emphasis on mental health and wellness initiatives, employee assistance programs, and such other services can create a supportive environment for workers to rely on.
Anjan Pathak is a Co-founder and CTO at Vantage Circle – an Employee Engagement Platform. Anjan is an HR technology enthusiast, very passionate about employee wellness and actively participates in the growth of the corporate culture. He is an avid reader and likes to be updated in the latest know-hows of Human Resource. Connect with Anjan on Linkedin and Twitter.