The Coronavirus pandemic came and went, drastically changing the way we function. Many people have talked about going back to the things that were, returning back to ‘normal’. But the truth is, this IS the new normal. A far cry from what we once knew it as. Companies have adapted and changed the way they operate. According to a study by McKinsey, we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of just eight weeks.
Banks have transitioned to remote sales and service teams. They are even providing flexible payment methods for loans and mortgages to customers. Grocery stores’ primary business now comes from online orders and delivery. Employees are upskilling in real-time. The marketplace has become more global and borderless.
The question now is, what’s the new role of a Leader? What skills do they need to be effective? How will they lead their team in this new dynamic?
What will Leadership look like in this Digital World?
Leadership has never been more important, and it’s never been harder. Innovation and technology have become indispensable to businesses and leaders are taking note. Executives recognize that going digital isn’t just about adopting technology for cost efficiencies. It needs to be more strategic. 89% of companies are either already adopting or planning to adopt a digital-first business strategy. Leaders need to learn to have a ‘digital’ mindset or face the consequences of their company going bust.
Although the way we work is changing, the fundamentals of leadership will remain constant. It is still about pushing employees towards common goals and creating a positive impact, at scale. But purely conventional approaches and capabilities are not going to be very effective in this post-Covid-19 environment. A key indicator of successful leaders in this demanding new environment will be how well they identify, develop and utilize top talent. Leaders also need to constantly keep upskilling and developing themselves. With the way business functions are changing, leadership skills need to be fine-tuned to stay relevant and effective. Leaders need to be ready to reinvent themselves. Be more agile, resilient, and experiment more.
How can Traditional Managers Adapt? What Skills do they need to Develop?
To cope with these challenges, managers need to question, reassess, and redefine their way of ‘managerial’ thinking. The new world will shatter their preconceived beliefs and force them to reexamine the context in which they make decisions.
- One of the most critical leadership skills to focus on right now is intentional learning. According to the World Economic Forum, 42% of core skills required for most jobs are going to change by 2022. Sometimes called ‘reskilling’ or ‘upskilling’, intentional learning means investing in the skills and leadership training that will create your future. Your future depends on your capacity for intentional learning.
- Leaders need to be more empathetic. In face to face working conditions, it was easier to understand when your employee was unsure or was not having a very great day. But perceiving employee sentiment effectively has become difficult after going remote. Leaders need to be more thoughtful and consciously take the effort to ask their team how they are doing. Organizations with more compassionate leaders have better collaboration, more trust, a stronger commitment to the organization, and lower turnover.
- Transparency is going to be the norm to be an effective leader today while navigating our “new normal”. When working remotely, your employees can’t see you walking around. It can make it difficult for your employees to get a read on how you’re doing. Leaders need to think about their team as much as possible. They are dealing with harsh times as well, and transparent communication during a crisis goes a long way.
- Leaders need to shift from their ‘fixed mindset’ and focus more on growth that ties in with the way the modern world works. Having a growth mindset is critical in the new normal. The most effective leaders are flexible, ever-evolving, constantly growing, learning, and seeking new possibilities.
There’s no denying that leaders needed to adapt to the new normal for their teams and company to thrive. But the adapting can’t stop now. It brings immense challenges, yet at the same time, it uncovers new opportunities. It’s more important than ever to use these tips and ideas listed above and adapt to the continuously altering situation. It’s not easy, yet with the right guidance, support and assistance, every leader will be able to get past all these challenges!