As the effects of new variants of the COVID-19 virus become less severe, many companies are beginning to look at finally bringing people back to the office. Assuming this is not another false start and people are asked to return, there are new challenges leaders will face for the first time. So what will post-pandemic leadership look like?
Our view of our professional lives has been altered through the pandemic. As the great resignation is demonstrating, people are re-evaluating what is important to them, including where and how they want to spend their time. No longer can companies lean on the way things are done. Employees are pushing back and challenging traditionally held beliefs of what work means to them. The World Economic Forum has five suggestions on how executives can reframe their leadership approach post-pandemic.
The Individual as a Whole
Expand your view of your employees beyond what you see at work. That is just one aspect of their personality. The pandemic has forced everyone to blend their personal and professional lives in ways we never imagined. Some of the changes we made while working at home have provided new expectations. We have seen that employees are just as productive even when they tend to family commitments during traditional work hours. It’s important not to disregard this perspective once employees are in the office on a more regular basis.
The Leader as Sociologist
As we’ve seen with the great resignation, the number of people quitting their jobs is at record levels. This requires a new skill set from executives, sociology. Paying more attention to human behavior can improve employee retention and satisfaction. Consider adopting or altering structures and processes that are agile and versatile to meet employee needs.
Psychological Safety, Well-Being, and Motivation
Back in 2015 Google undertook a study to see if they could determine the hallmarks of their top-performing teams. One of the primary elements they discovered was psychological safety. The ability to speak freely and be themselves without fear of repercussions is critical to high performance. However, most companies have yet to embrace this level of openness and transparency. The challenges of the pandemic have made employee well-being issues a top priority for leadership. Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School stated, “We now have to work a little harder to share what we’re thinking, to ask questions.”
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are areas of focus that need to be constantly evaluated to ensure everyone has the same opportunities to learn and grow. While technology can support this initiative, it is still the responsibility of leadership to foster this culture. As a wake-up call, the article notes, “It is a well-known fact that women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. In a recent survey of North American female employees, one in four women said they were thinking about reducing or leaving paid work due to the pandemic, citing company inflexibility, caring responsibilities and stress.”
Insight over Data
We have gone from not having much data to having far too much data in just a couple of decades. The challenge most organizations face is how to manage the data and understand what data is valuable and what isn’t. It’s easy to get caught in analysis paralysis or cherry-pick data that you want to use. But finding actionable insights in areas that can make a difference takes time and focus. Data can be used to tell a variety of stories, and leaders who are thoughtful understand that curiosity will lead to more work and more meaningful answers
Focusing on these intangible assets, while more difficult, “will be key when it comes to acquiring and retaining talent, and account for as much as 85% of the total business value across industries.” If you have questions on leadership culture or executive hiring needs, send us a note ane of our retained search consultants will reply promptly.