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Top 5 Leadership Capabilities for a Post Pandemic world

Organisations are now developing Leadership capabilities for a post pandemic world.  The COVID-19 pandemic remains among the top three concerns across all industry leaders around the world.  We have moved to a different phase of the pandemic and CEOs are switching their attention to recovery and growth, rather than survival.  Recovery and growth will be in a different world with different challenges.  The Great Resignation is set to continue this year.  Hybrid or remote working is set to stay.  A world of constant change.  Outcomes are hard to foresee.  In this context CEOs are challenging their CPOs to develop Leadership capabilities for a post pandemic world.  To help you get ahead of this, here are my top 5 recommendations:

 

Agility

According to Cambridge Dictionary, agility refers to “the ability to move your body quickly and easily.”  The same can be applied to Leaders – the ability to maintain orderliness, performance and quality in the context of constant change.  This needs to start with leaders’ own mindset.  They need to be sufficiently self confident and self aware to see change as positive, and not a threat to them.  Able to park their egos and emotions, move away from systems or processes that they may have a vested interest in.  Yet also value organisation and quality enough to know how to instil orderliness whilst also being flexible.

 

Comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty

This goes hand in hand with agility.  To be agile you also need to feel comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity.  Ambiguity is hard because we’re conditioned to give answers and we like fixing things for people there and then. The traditional approaches no longer work as technology, society’s expectations and environmental concerns have become increasingly complex.  Leaders no longer have all the solutions, and that’s not their role any more.  Being comfortable with ambiguity involves setting aside your own judgements and questioning your assumptions.  Making the most appropriate decision possible, rather than the BEST decision.  This is a vulnerable place for leaders to be, and a new skill to be learnt.  

 

Able to build trust and credibility.

This involves being transparent and authentic, both in what you say and do. Research carried out by Eric Berne found that as people shared their attitudes, beliefs, feelings and emotions in their communications their levels of trust increased, until people reached intimacy or rapport where they were completely comfortable with each other and fully trust each other. 

 

Understanding of people’s needs as individuals

Being able to understand other people’s needs is also known as Social Cognition.  Good social cognition helps us understand people’s beliefs, feelings, experiences and intentions which in turn allows us to empathise and see things from another point of view.  This is the key to creating an engaging work environment.  Only then can we place employees in roles that are engaging and understand individual employee’s expectations and the degree to which they are met.  Leading employees wholeheartedly giving discretionary effort to help the company succeed.

 

The ability to build inclusive and connected hybrid teams

Hybrid working changes the dynamics of working relationships.  It takes a different effort to coordinate with remote teammates, effort that we’re not used to.  Remote teammates can get left out of small exchanges and minor decisions made by office based teammates.  Over time this can become the norm and escalate leaving people out of bigger conversations and more important decisions. This could also lead to a “core class” who feel they’re central to the organisation,  and a “peripheral class” who feel disconnected from the work and organisation.  Leaders need help to recognise the signs and take steps to avoid this happening.  Empathy, listening and the ability to read between the lines are all skills needed here.

 

The ability to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn

The futurist Alvin Toffler wrote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  Leaders need a sense of their own strengths and weaknesses and want to develop themselves.  They need to accept themselves (I’m OK the way I am) while at the same time trying to improve themselves.  Often referred to as a Growth Mindset. Leaders can assume that they’ve done the learning they’ve needed because of their level in the organisation.  In the past that might have been the case, but these days successful Leaders continually learn and adapt to never-ending shifts in job requirements and newly emerging skills.

 

Remember, the COVID-19 pandemic remains among the top three concerns across all industry leaders around the world meaning now is the time to develop Leadership capabilities for a post pandemic world.  As People Professionals we have a huge role to play here. Organisations are made up of people.  So whenever we talk about “the organisation” we’re really talking about a bunch of people, and Leaders influence that organisation in a big way.  The best systems, processes and products won’t get you anywhere without the Leadership creating the culture and employee experience that brings those pieces alive.

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