Leadership in the ‘New Normal’

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As we are steering through uncertain times, the importance of good leadership has surfaced so very often. The pandemic radically changed the way we live and work, and a ‘new normal’ has emerged. The business world had already been rapidly evolving. And since right leadership is a critical factor – how can leaders navigate through these difficult times while at the same time, keep their team motivated and engaged?

What are some key attributes an effective leader must have to succeed in the “new normal”? 

Leading through change

Leading, is definitely a difficult task, and when faced with uncertainties like the current times, modern leaders are evolving – trying to reach out and meet the needs of a remote workstyle.  

So what does good leadership involve during Covid-19 times?

• Be reachable

In the times of social distancing, it is relevant that if something has come into focus during the pandemic –  it is the importance of communication skills. So, whether you’re leading a small or large team, the ability to communicate clearly and transparently even from a distance, has never been more important. Leaders need to be reachable even from a distance. When going through times of change, employees look up to their leaders and they need to feel that ‘trust’.

Today we see leaders reaching out, having open discussions about their wins, challenges, or concerns. The right words from leadership can allay employee doubts or fears, so it’s worth the time to connect. And don’t we know virtual meetings, webinars, and on, plus virtual lunches and parties that add the ‘’fun’ element!

Optimism and empathy are the need of the hour

There has never been a better time to embrace empathy. We are hearing about  employee burnout and stress that has led many employers turning to HR  professionals to help face the trend. Good leaders can get on top of the game by taking out the time to reach out to their team members. To become more empathetic, leaders can listen, provide employees with a platform to voice their opinions using digitally-enabled tools that can help track engagement. In other words, they should “walk the talk” – and be a champion for change.  

Also, care must be taken to project a positive outlook by talking with employees.  In the midst of so much uncertainty in the world, leaders need to be seen as a trusted sources of knowledge and support.

• Acknowledge the technology advantage

In the new normal, the role of everything ‘digital’ has come centrestage. As a leader, it is imperative to explore ways to strike the right balance in a space where technology is interlinked with both customer and workforce demands.

The need of the hour is to use technology optimally and understand how new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) can help in achieving business goals. With greater human-machine collaboration, the current workforce can focus on innovation and creativity, while the mundane tasks can be taken over by technology.

• Adapt to changing customer behaviors

With WFH cutlture, that is making people mostly stay indoors, the need for instant gratification through one-click processes has increased manifold. Deliveries have become contactless and everyone is shifting to online platforms to avail services – the change is evident across industries worldwide. So, leaders need to innovate and stay current, so that customer ‘delight’ can created – offering them an unparalleled experiences. There is the need to constantly evaluate, be aware of the new customer reality and then efficiently build experiences around it.

• Find purpose in sustainability

The pandemic has pitched many leaders to question their ethics and responsibility toward the environment and society as a whole.

Leadership needs to work towards attaining overall sustainability by imbibing responsible business practices – like water conservation, achieving zero emissions, and, most importantly, waste management. So much is being discussed and society is becoming increasingly aware of the impact of our everyday activities on the planet, and businesses going against environmental protocol are being closely scrutinized.

In fact, social responsibility has shifted to become a priority for businesses. And, this attitude will ultimately benefit everyone. So it’s best that the business leaders establish a long-term vision that has a purpose, which would be a reflection of not just the values of the business but also the stakeholders and employees.

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