What will leadership look like after Covid?

We noticed floating around the internet lately some articles about what leadership will look like after Covid. Not that the pandemic is going to leave anytime soon since it has already integrated nicely with our global human society.

However, this is still a good question to answer because it can prepare us for when we do get Covid down to manageable levels. We decide to do our own research on the internet (where else), and solicit opinions of leaders from around the world.

We received a range of responses and, after sorting them, noticed they largely fall into two sides; a ‘Stay the same’ or ‘Things will change’ camps. The sizeable minority in the ‘Stay the same’ camp thought nothing has changed in the leadership space with the advent of Covid. The other side in the ‘Things will change’ camp where the majority of views are, thought things in the leadership space have or will change with the pandemic, albeit the changes themselves are varied.

Let us share with you the thoughts from the two camps below.

The ‘Stay the same’ Camp

The ‘Stay the same’ Camp.

There were some who believed that leadership has not changed. Even assuming that Covid is never going away, will be in human society for a long time, or that the pandemic has fundamentally changed how we work, play, and interact in our own societies.

This camp believes that all the pandemic has done is simply changed the mode of working; as in we moved from working in-person in an office to working remotely for those who have the option to do so.

There has been a trend towards more leadership than management in the modern workshop, and this trend continues unabated.

If anything, with workplace flexibility, remote work, and work from home arrangements for many, great leaders at all levels continue to be needed to engage and inspire their teams. Productivity and results are becoming a by-product of that great leadership.

Even if Covid were to magically disappear one day and everyone went back to in-person offices, teams would still need to be engaged and inspired.

From this view point, we agree. Great leadership is always needed regardless of the times. Nothing will change that. In fact, at this current period of uncertainty, leadership is needed now more than ever.

The ‘Things will change’ Camp.

The ‘Things will change’ Camp.

The vast majority of our leaders’ opinions belonged to this camp, which itself is split into three subgroups; namely the Accelerated, Highlighted, and Positive changes.

The ‘Accelerated’ subgroup: The first is the view that Covid has accelerated an existing trend towards more remote work. The need to social distance employees during the early days of the pandemic meant a rush towards technology and work practices that enabled remote work for as many as possible to enable employees to be productive and deliver results.

This has brought about a need for leaders at all levels to be more agile and adaptable in leading both in-person and remote teams, and be more technologically savvy to engage and inspire them. Examples are being more presentable on video, learning how to show up as an authentic leader on camera, and more frequent interactions through various means.

The ‘Highlighted’ subgroup: The second has highlighted the need for great leadership at all levels of an organization to engage and inspire employees during times of uncertainty. Organisations also need to put in the investments to develop their frontline leadership. The development of frontline leaders has to account for their understanding of what leadership is, how they can lead with resilience, humility, and with the ability to bring hope and unite those around them.

The ‘Positive change’ subgroup: The third is an optimistic view that the advent of Covid has finally brought about a renewed focus on the people element of leadership. This stems from a view that leadership may have simply been an adaptation of management and primarily serves as a tool to drive productivity and results for organizations. Covid has brought about a need to take a more wholistic and human-centric view on work and life.

It is this need to account for the people element that takes us to current events like the Great resignation and why people are reevaluating why they do what they do. There has already been a need for leaders to consider the values of the organization. Now the time may have come for leaders at all levels to reshape their teams and their attitudes towards more meaning in the work they do.

Valid points from both sides

Valid points from both sides

Both the ‘Stay the same’ and ‘Things will change’ camps bring about valid points in this discussion. There will always be a need for great leaders at all levels of an organization to engage and inspire their teams. Covid may have changed how we work and how leadership is applied, however it does not change why great leaders continue to be needed.

Leadership has always been about people, and sometimes as humans we forget that whilst in the pursue of productivity and results. While there are realisations that for some jobs, remote work can be very effective for both the employee and the organization, being great leaders is now more challenging thanks to Covid. However as one leader pointed out that leadership itself does not always need to rely on people being in the same building.

More effort is needed to connect with remote team members so that leaders can foster growth and maintain a positive culture regardless of the circumstances.

Daniel Lee
January 17, 2022 | 683 views
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