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Has clear leadership ever been more necessary

In considering the impact of Covid-19, an inevitable conclusion is that Leadership has been key for organisations that have ‘ridden out the storm’ so far.

Some of that survival has been down to luck. Industries have flourished during this extraordinary time because of the staggering increase in demand for their products (masks, sanitizer etc.). Others, meanwhile, suffered because of the way their goods and services were delivered, such as the hair and beauty industry.

For many organisations, however, we would be doing their Leaders a disservice to credit their situation down to luck. They thought very clearly, very deliberately and very decisively during the early days when the spread of the virus was not guaranteed, but likely.

Rather than sit back and wait to see if it happened, these Leaders put plans in place. In preparation for what in the end did happen – going into lockdown – they planned the pivotal shift in the way of working that had to take place and in some cases took the steps to ask their teams to work from home before they were required to. That has paid off and probably should have been what we did as a country too.

But what lies ahead for these Leaders, as we move into the Winter and as we’re once again told to work from home if we can?

Well, what we can be certain of is that in 2021, maintaining employee engagement and wellbeing will be as ‘high a priority’ as it has been during 2020. We know this because all of the data tells us that organisations with engaged employees tend to have significantly lower staff churn with productivity and profitability being much higher – things that every Leader is acutely aware of.

Resilience is needed (at all levels)

The trouble is, there is still so much uncertainty, not just because of the virus, but because of Brexit and the associated unpredictability of the economic and business environment. Organisations are having to introduce more change initiatives, than ever, and people are becoming ‘change fatigued’ because of it.

Equipping teams with the ability to deal with change, i.e. the resilience to move forward, will be a challenge. Of course, uncertainty can lead employees to lack confidence in one another and can have a de-railing effect on change programmes, so it is a big ask.

 Everyone must be a leader

One answer is to expect and encourage Leadership behaviour of everyone – not just those with the title. The associated people skills are important to a leader’s success and so they must focus on:

  • Developing a leadership mindset
  • Understanding the need to get things done through and with others
  • Motivating people to want to succeed
  • Seeing development through coaching as the route to high performance

 Invest in your first line Managers – they impact the most people, directly

They are involved in all aspects of a company from strategy to customer satisfaction and from sales to finance, so developing these leaders has to be at the top of an organisation’s learning agenda. It’s their people skills that determine their success and yet these skills are ignored in the pursuit of the numbers. In reality, at least a third of the leadership development budget should be focussed on these key players and these vital skills.

Learning comes from thoughtful training

If there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that we have to think differently about conventional training workshops in the classroom. They have always had to reflect what happens in the workplace but now that delivery is online, employees need to be totally engaged in their training. Learning must be accessible, challenging and relevant.

So, the prospect of more months of uncertainty and the challenge of delivering high performance in a complex climate presents us with many issues. The key will be if our Leaders show the same forethought and decisiveness that the enlightened ones showed at the beginning of the pandemic.

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2 comments on “Has clear leadership ever been more necessary”

… confident, caring, knowledgeable; handled the team dynamics very well; informative and fun.

Tailored advice and feedback to the individuals and teams as he got to know us better; personal.

Great at defusing tricky situations.

Respectful and caring Educator and a wonderful individual.

Extremely good facilitator of many discussions, valuing everyone in the group.

Clear presenter; good at bringing across the material.

Very good facilitator; great listener and a great sense of humour.

On a personal level I felt it was the first time that I had been able to draw a breath and think about all you discussed since the start of Covid. So, a huge thank you, the content, slides, interaction on chat etc was all brilliant.

Special kudos to him for creating the psychological space that enabled the group to publicly share feedback

In addition to the training material itself, Hans was able to provide deeper answers on specific topics that came from more experienced managers.

Super confident, had answers for everything or helped find them. Really, good. Pretty impressed!

Great speaker, leaving sufficient space for attendees to get involved in the discussions

Hans was an engaging facilitator and was able to both answer questions expertly and cultivate a healthy dialogue including the whole room.

Good sense of humour, effective at delivering content and soliciting questions from the audience.

Hans did great job in involving people to have discussion about the various issues instead of just presenting them, much appreciated!

Clear, engaging and committed to helping us – amazing facilitator