So, has leadership as we know it had a breakdown? No, I think it’s a breakthrough. Salary cuts, crashing economies and general crisis paralysis have left leaders wandering aimlessly through the smoking debris of their businesses.
Tragic, yes, but it’s also given leaders across the world an opportunity to rebuild.
The ways of yesteryear won’t hack it, though. Because this unknown future has to still unfold. The future, like plans for a house, will still evolve, adapt and expand.
17th-century Japanese poet and samurai (how can I not relate to a samurai at a time like this!) said “My barn has burned down, now I see the moon.”. Over the past 80 to 100 years we as human beings have been experiencing a Saeculum – and evolvement of structures from growth to maturity, entropy and now to destruction.
This bleak loss has altered the work balance perspective, added responsibilities and also posed a big question; how to drive teams, reinvent business models and create content and safe workplaces and spaces, while still responding to the digital wave the virus has faced us with.
Understanding this seasonal context means there’s an onus on leaders to become aware of endings. Transitioning through this we enter the phase of the ‘the strange’. Without a sense of duration, path or outcome this is either a dark void or a blank canvas. It’s time to redefine goals, but with a more humane approach.
Today, obscure challenges which pose great economic and health risks are highlighting that leaders have to respond immediately to any unforeseen danger. It requires a new type of leader, defenceless yet brave, atypical yet pragmatic, driven by market forces yet conscious of its footprint.
Vulnerability is now the new superpower. Instead of blame, defensiveness and shock, the brave new leaders choose to share their concerns and openly seek help, by asking themselves some of these questions:
- Do I have a support system of people who can keep me grounded?
- Do you I have an executive coach, mentor or confidant?
- What feedback have I received about not walking the talk?
- Do I demand privileges?
- Do I invite others into the spotlight?
- Do I isolate myself in the decision-making process, and do my decisions reflect what you truly value?
- Do I admit to making mistakes?
- Do I tell myself there are different rules for people like me?
These self-reflections forge genuine bonds. There’s an acceptance that they don’t have all the solutions, cementing trust and transparency. And that inspires loyalty. So, my suggestion is that you do the following:
- Embrace change with enthusiasm and excitement. This is a state-of-mind change. There will not be clear answers to things anymore. Leaders will have to evaluate risks on the go and juggle between different decision.
- Create. Tap into unique talents, functions and contributions
- Overcommunicate. This virtual world may be tech-driven but the art of simple and impactful communication till counts. It’s critical to drive teams and goals, but reaching the heart and remembering to listen is the most powerful communication ever invented.
- Be there for the team – empathy and emotional intelligence are the new game-changers for the workplace. Every voice and opinion matters in this new reality.
These are big discussions and I don’t think anybody has all the answers, but I suggest try to divide yourself up into today and tomorrow teams. Make sure you have people focused on putting the fire out today while other people are drawing up the future house plans.
If you’re in a position of leadership or if you have a business or if you’re in a position of management realize that if you’re asking your people or if even you yourself are dousing the flames while doing the rebuilding you’re not doing anyone any favours.
This new reality leadership is about adding and acknowledging value to every role – big or small. It maximises the human spirit’s creativity, talent and positivity that can outplay digital creation in the workplace and beyond.