08 Nov The Post Covid Leader
By Dr. Damian Goldvarg, MCC
Covid-19 has presented us with multiple challenges. Leaders, in all spheres, need to demonstrate resilience and adapt. Some have been very effective; others, not so much. In today’s world, what is required of the post-pandemic leader? The pandemic is still affecting us, but there is a new normal in the world of work that requires novel approaches.
According to Diego Quindimil (2021), in the Post COVID era, it is required to be a “psychologist leader” who offers empathic motivation and promotes mental health at work, who demonstrates closeness and support, leaving hierarchies aside to achieve the greatest possible connection from person to person. This can be very challenging, particularly in organizations where employees are said to be the most important resource, even if in fact leadership behaviors are not aligned with this belief. In their corporate messages, they boast that employees are the priority for decision-making, but ambitious goals are imposed on them that often produce high levels of stress in order to achieve them. We refer not only to business companies, but also to the pressure that colleagues receive in non-profits, governmental, and educational organizations.
Quindimil (2021) suggests that leadership needs to be agile and flexible in the context of the pandemic. Here are some of the strategies that Post Covid leaders need to demonstrate:
- Share a clear, inspirational, and well-communicated vision that helps employees understand where they are. Communication is key in times of crisis. Given the uncertainty, the leader needs to offer certainties and a map to outline where they are headed. Planning is part of this key strategy. The unique challenges of the pandemic require understanding the fears of employees to empathize and offer clear messages that allow them to develop trust in the leader and the organization. According to Dirani (2020), governments, communities, and organizations are in crisis and seek guidance from their leaders. It is the time when leaders have to help systems and individuals overcome their limitations and the fears that limit their performance.
- To be willing to transform, learn, and continuously improve is to be committed to embracing the change and “mindset shifts”, of deep-rooted thoughts and beliefs. This can be challenging for leaders who see their success as the result of strategies they want to replicate. The problem is that what guaranteed good results before the pandemic, may not work in the present and future. This requires courage to step outside of the known and take risks.
- Demonstrating adaptive leadership involves demonstrating flexibility and encouraging leaders to delegate, empowering others to collaborate in adjusting to the opportunities and threats they face. It is not only a change of perspective but also of action, which produces impacts on employees. It requires being open and valuing the ideas of others with the necessary humility. This is a very big challenge for some leaders.
According to Dinari (2020), hostile work environments can develop in crisis situations and leaders have to pay attention to the physical and emotional health of their employees. Leaders have to pay attention to risk factors in work environments, the amount of work imparted, and the balance between personal and professional life both their own and that of their collaborators. There may be the need to put boundaries between spaces. When this is not handled properly there can be resignations and turnover of valuable employees.
Leaders need to understand that crises produce fear, anger, frustration, and sometimes even resistance. Creating supportive and collaborative work climates is as important as developing empathy, cooperation, recognition, and trust. Avoiding control, hierarchies, and micromanagement and supporting and reaching out to colleagues emotionally is key. Interpersonal skills are a must.
These strategies apply to all types of leadership. I invite you to consider how you can apply them when and where appropriate.
Quindimil, D. World Post Covid. Ed. Granica, Buenos Aires, 2021.
Dirani, K et all. Leadership competencies and the essential role of human resource development in times of crisis: a response to Covid-19 pandemic. Routledge. Human Resource Development International. Vol 23. No 4 380-394, 2020.