The business world has been permanently altered due to COVID-19. But, what does this mean for business leaders? Here’s what it takes to be a strong business leader in 2021.
The year 2020 changed the world forever. What is expected of a leader in business and in life is different from what was required previously. As your organization looks to 2021 and beyond, you will want to identify some core practices that will differentiate the best leaders from the rest.
Leaders Must Be Empathetic
Empathy has been described as having someone else’s pain in your heart. It is the idea of being able to understand and feel what a person is going through.
Empathy is important for today’s leaders. They are not simply leading remote teams. They are leading remote teams during a global pandemic. This is an important factor that can be easily forgotten, especially as people are trying to become accustomed to the new normal of work.
A good leader understands the context in which his or her employees and team are working. They understand the extra effort that parents, for example, need to put forth in order to work from home while homeschooling their children and making sure that everyone in the home is safe from the pandemic.
In these current conditions, an outstanding leader can never lose sight of the circumstances in which their team is working. They need to see and acknowledge the effort being put forth to complete tasks.
A skilled leader will show that they are curious about what went into a remote worker’s successfully completing a project. What type of innovation was needed? Clearly, the pandemic will not last forever. But the empathy that leaders need to show in today’s environment will help their teams face future challenges with confidence.
Leaders Must Take the Right Type of Action
Leaders can evaluate themselves and evaluate the time they spend not only understanding what their employees are doing but also understanding the effort required to achieve these goals under the current circumstances. Leaders now and going forward need to think beyond the what and focus on the how.
Leaders will act to create meetings that are more than just transmitting information but serve as a form for meaningful dialogue and understanding. Leaders who cannot appreciate and acknowledge the work their employees do will not be leading well.
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Agility
Emotional intelligence means that you are able to understand and control your own emotions. This is especially important with business leadership because business leaders, just like those who they lead, are undergoing trials and experiencing pressures. They are learning to navigate new environments. The only difference is that they are paving the way for those who are following them.
Exemplary leaders can detach themselves from the situation. They realize that their thoughts and emotions are not what defines them. Emotional agility allows them to understand the why of their actions and the impact their actions will have on others.
When a leader can align intent and impact, communication comes across clear. Emotions aren’t triggered. If emotions are triggered, emotionally agile leaders can pivot and make the adjustments needed to keep things calm.
A New Approach to Time Management
Now that is becoming clear that working remotely is here to stay, leaders have needed to take a unique approach to time management. They realize they cannot follow the same patterns they followed when they were working in the office.
The goal can’t be to shove as many video calls as possible into the day. The work context has changed, so good leaders will realize the need to manage their time based on how their employees work now. This is a test of leadership. It requires rewiring people from what they have done their entire life.
The work environment has changed drastically. Leaders need to change as well. There are some intrinsic qualities that leaders have that are universal and that will always be valuable. However, to be truly effective, talented leaders will need to couple traditional leadership with a brand of leadership that shows they realize they are working in an unfamiliar environment with new requirements.
By Maggie Bloom