I think it is safe to say that “normal” now has a new meaning for everyone as we adapt, retool and reshape our way of being, living and working. In varying degrees, everyone is grappling with the realities of what productivity looks like in the new normal, how to balance the many hats we find ourselves wearing simultaneously (ie. FT worker, FT parent, FT educator, etc.) and how to preserve one’s mental health for this marathon event triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we rethink work, our workers and the workplace, it presents a new dynamic to leadership and what is required to lead people during and through this time. While numerous attributes of leadership are being called into play, the following three components are an essential part of the starting line up for leaders leading in the new normal.
In this new normal, leaders will need to make the shift from “ego-centric” to “out-centric” leadership and from “top-down” to “alongside” dynamics. Out-centric leaders are focused on developing dynamic, active and collaborative teams and understand that everyone has something to contribute. The out-centric leader ensures their team understands the “why” behind their work. Given the social distancing and remote working realities brought on by this pandemic, teams will increasingly need to rally behind purpose-driven work for sustained motivation.
Increased Communication and Transparency
Leading teams through challenging periods of transition and change require a step towards “over-communicating”. Maintaining consistent and frequent lines of communication between you and your team helps to quell fears, anxiety and signals a true “in this together” understanding among the group. Increased communication lends itself to increasing transparency among your team. As remote working and virtual interaction continue to define the new normal, transparency will be essential to the speed of rallying trust and buy-in. Used well, both provide leaders with an opportunity for honest and vulnerable dialogue and leadership.
Increased Flexibility and Adaptability
If there was ever a time to get comfortable with being flexible, it is now. Our ability to thrive beyond this pandemic will require leaders to embrace flexibility in all facets of work as the challenges are plenty and the answers aren’t all known. Therefore, teams now require leaders to embrace new, non-traditional thinking and solutions from all levels of the team to address the non-traditional challenges at hand.
How quickly leaders and teams pivot and adapt will also influence their success at creating a responsive operating culture to meet the everchanging targets, strategies and action needed in this new normal. Flexibility and adaptability give way for leaders to get better at embracing the empathy required by the “whole human” experience of our team members working during a pandemic.
As this pandemic continues to challenge our previous assumptions of the world, what can and cannot be done, leaders and the people they support must seize the opportunities to plot a new course and manoeuvre the new age of work.
About the author:
Shane Malcolm is the Executive Director of Leadership Niagara - a local non-profit that’s been dedicated to inspiring civic engagement and action through world-class leadership programs since 2007. Working with leaders from across different sectors of Niagara, Leadership Niagara ushers in the next generation of change-makers and community influencers that understand our community needs.
LinkedIn: Shane Malcolm
This article originally appeared in Business Link Niagara.