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5 post-pandemic leadership styles to win over 2021

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In another fortnight it will be 2021! Almost everyone will be glad to say goodbye to a year which has not only changed the world, but also the way workplaces function. Businesses have been impacted, with many struggling to stay afloat, and working styles have undergone a sea change. It is now, more than ever those companies need leaders and not bosses. It is the leadership that will change the future of many organizations that are trying to rebuild their businesses and push up economies. There’s much curiosity around leadership styles and traits that can take one through not only the humanitarian tragedy which is likely to persist for some time to come, but also restore balance sheets for rapid growth.

The quest and question now, in the post COVID-19 era, what style of leadership will work, and why? What has changed so drastically that we need to rethink what style of leadership will work to bring both companies and employees out of this frustrating phase, and lead them to successes and profits? To begin with, work culture has changed drastically. The bosses who insisted on crazy work hours, who believed those who work from home are slacking off, or those who believed in workaholism are no longer the flavour of the season.

The pandemic brought about a new normal, dictating a new set of work culture, breeding new leadership attributes to beat the COVID 19 corporate blues – trust, commitment, responsibility, flexibility, clarity of communication, and more. “Managing a crisis requires leaders to adapt their behaviour with intention. The key challenges are ambidexterity, time pressure and emotional stress”, says Deloitte, in its survey Leadership styles of the future. Let’s look at a few probable leadership styles that are here to stay:

1, The Flexible Fellow: The one who goes with the flow, wins the show. Adaptability and flexibility are the new catch words here. Imagine a boss who insisted everybody works in a certain way only, or one who loves to stick with decisions taken weeks ago, refusing to change. Can you see him still calling the shots in the post COVID era? No, right? Willingness to consider new ideas, explore newer ways of making things work, adapting to new data flow, logical approach to policy making – and breaking – are the order of the day. Leaders who take charge of the change they want to see around them, taking quick decisions with a healthy irreverence to the tried and tested will lead their companies to the top!

2. The empathetic employer: The Big Word in a world ravaged by a pandemic. Only those who lend a helping hand and a sympathetic ear can rise up to be leaders as workers still grieving for multiple losses in their lives come back to work. Those leaders who can come up with innovative employee benefit programs, those who bring that humane touch even to tough business decisions will definitely be a better fit for organisations looking to build a new asset base of loyal employees. In short, the one who can tap into the world’s suffering and help everyone see meaning in that.In his article, How compassionate leadership works in the new world, in TechWire, Donald Thompson writes, “Your job as a leader is to make the world better: to do hard things with humanity. Showing compassion does not come at the expense of performance. The good news is that balancing the two is not so tricky as it sounds.” That’s the bottom line.

3. The open communicator: What makes candid communication such a great leadership trait in 2021? The Harvard Business Review, in an article, talks about how Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s open and bold announcement of the four-level COVID-19 alert system helped New Zealand flatten the curve speedily. Her open communication told people in advance that a certain escalation of the situation was on the cards, helping them be prepared for the worst. Secrecy has no role when your people are looking up to you, for direction and vision. Sharing the stresses that the company is going through, along with a clear mission and purpose will far outweigh anything else , in charging up a frayed workforce. Teams need to hear more frequently from their leaders, whether it’s townhalls, or smaller cohorts.

4. The hybrid manager/problem solver: One boss, many teams. As many companies are experimenting with remote working, trying to cut costs and create efficient pockets of work zones that can support a virtual working infrastructure, the one who can manage hybrid teams and work structures will rise. The boss who is all about collaboration, team work and conversing in a flexi-remote format, is able to bring about a shift in the mindset of his co-workers about doing their everyday operations in a smarter way, is the need of the hour.

5. The updated Uber GOD: Good leadership is about being an unrelenting steerer of the ship, right? Wrong. These are novel times, and only the one who can keep pace with rapid changes in any direction can lead the pack.As a case in point, Forbes, in an article by Dana Brownlee, points out how the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings were what everyone looked forward to during those intense lockdown days. She quotes how Governor Cuomo’s “fact filled matter of fact style COVID-19 briefings” brought about a sense of transparency to everything, and “garnered praise for these briefings where he methodically provides fact-based updates then responds to a wide range of journalists’ questions with the support of his team of experts and clearly competent staff”. So, leaders who are, to use today’s lingo, ‘with-it’, who make updating their understanding of the situating a daily job, who are able to come up with strategies on their feet, use all the information they can gather to steer the company through the choppy pandemic waters to the shore will become the true captains of their ships.

And so, leaders come and leaders go, but how often do we come across a leader who leaves his or her mark across generations, spanning several nations? As rare as that occurrence is also the fact that no one became a leader by being an insensitive whip-wielder – definitely not in the post pandemic world. The future leaders are those who have a vision that’s as flexible as the waves in the sea, and yet, as relentless in their pursuit of excellence as the waves are in reaching the shores.

Written By Ashwini Kumar Sharma

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