I’m a little worried about leaders right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I am amazed at the creativity, compassion and resiliency so many leaders in business, government and the not-for-profit sectors have shown during this COVID-19 crisis.
So many leaders have stepped up to the challenge of this moment. So many are speaking clearly. So many are cultivating cohesive teams. So many are connecting with their people more authentically, empathetically, and consistently.
Leaders have done well during COVID-19. It is not past performance that concerns me.
It is what happens next that has me troubled.
What happens when the recovery takes hold, the pace of business increases and a new set of demands descend upon our leaders? What happens when the novelty of video calls and working from home wears off and becomes the new “business as usual”? What happens when the fog of this strange time lifts and the scope and depth of its harsh impact becomes clear?
How will leaders respond?
It is my sincere hope that most leaders will hold onto at least some of the positive habits they’ve developed and tools they’ve adopted during this time.
Crisis doesn’t change what we need from leaders. It simply amplifies those needs.
When the chaos subsides we don’t stop needing authenticity from our leaders. We don’t stop needing empathy from those we look to for direction. We don’t stop needing our leaders to show they believe in us and what we are capable of when we work together toward a clear, unifying goal.
Arguably, we might need those leadership qualities even more when there isn’t an obvious urgency or “fire to put out” around us.
That’s because those are the leadership qualities that truly drive organizational performance. When leaders take steps to be clear with their vision, consistent in their execution and connect to their people, performance improves. Always.
The most effective leaders know this.
So, what can leaders do to ensure they maintain the very best of what this COVID-19 crisis has brought out of them.
Here are three strategies every leaders should commit to keeping:
- Keep “overcommunicating” – Surely, it has become obvious by now that your people want to hear from you. Even, if you don’t have all the answers. They want to continue to see your authenticity in action. They want to continue to experience your empathy. They want to continue to see your belief in them manifest in everything you do. What is your plan to keep communicating with clarity, connection and consistency at a much higher rate than pre-COVID-19?
- Maintain operational alignment to your vision and core values – Your organization will accelerate through this recovery period if you remain focused and united. Many leaders adopted systems to manage operational performance during the crisis. The best leaders will maintain those systems during the recovery to ensure performance across the enterprise remains consistent, measurable and focused on the strategic imperatives of the organization.
- Revise the “profile of a leader” in your organization – The COVID-19 crisis has shown us what great leadership looks like and what poor leadership looks like. Every business has it’s own unique Target Leadership Profile – that combination of principles, practices and tools that define what exceptional leadership looks like in your corporate context. This crisis has confirmed many of those traits and also shown us some new traits that are suddenly far more important. Take this opportunity to document and define what the ideal leader looks like for your organization, and take steps to develop those leaders now.
Crisis always brings about remarkable opportunities for reflection, redemption and renewal. It is true in every aspect of life and certainly true in organizational leadership.
Don’t let this moment of opportunity pass by. Take stock of lessons learned. And take steps to put those lessons into practice so that your leadership and the leadership within your team will be even more equipped for the next challenge coming our way.