Every crisis, large or small, influences the way we lead because it causes us to stop, recalibrate, and innovate. A global crisis of the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic brings wide-ranging changes—changes that not only affect a single organization or industry or nation but that cause us to rebuild the way we think about leadership. Here are some of the things the pandemic is teaching us about the future of leadership:
We will need leaders who know how to show presence without being physically present. We’re experiencing a shift in how leaders interact with their people. Where before people craved an open office and open-door policies, that can no longer be the model—even for teams that aren’t separated by geography. For a leader to be effective, they need to learn creative and consistent ways to connect with those they lead.
We will need leaders who speak the truth even when it’s hard to hear. Far too many leaders insist on assuring people that all is well, even when that’s not remotely the truth. Moving forward, we will need leaders who will can push against the natural human tendency to downplay and delay bad news, who embrace a commitment to providing transparent, honest communication—no matter how bad the news is. The pandemic has reinforced an important principle: trying to delay or wish away bad news is a costly mistake.
We will need leaders who know how to engage the expertise of others. Gone are the days of top-heavy organizations where senior leadership makes all the decisions. Times of crisis show us the value of decentralized leadership, and the ability to create a network of talented experts with access to good data is fast becoming an essential leadership skill. The best leaders are no longer in front, making all the immediate decisions. They are building long-term strategies and navigating a course with a leadership team whose diverse perspectives strengthen the enterprise.
We will need leaders who embrace empathy as well as efficiency. Now that we’ve experienced a stark reminder that the future is never certain, leadership has to change. The leader of the future must lead with empathy. They will no longer be free to tolerate indifference to the effects of their decisions—whether it’s colleagues in the same city or people manufacturing products halfway around the world. Effectiveness and results will still be important, but so will understanding and relationships.
Leading is changing, and the transition isn’t likely to be an easy one. Those in charge will be tested in areas where they have not fully developed their skills, and many leaders, old and new, will need coaching to help them navigate the qualities they’ll need to be successful. But new challenges bring new opportunities, and the potential for greatness will expand along with the role of the leader.
Lead from within: Today is the day we can start becoming the future leaders who will have a chance to mend the world.
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After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
This content was originally published here.