The world is chaotic, noisy, and full of tragedy. Many of us know people who have become ill, or worse yet, have lost their lives. Families are separated, businesses shuttered, and jobs lost. The pandemic has changed global macro- and micro-economics, social order and preferences, acceptable business practices, workforce dynamics, and the list goes on. What I know is this: We will survive, but it will never be the same.
More than any time in recent history, we are living in a world of unknowns. We are a world in transition, and no doubt, your problem set has changed over the last few weeks and months. This is the time to develop great clarity around the near to mid-term time horizon. You must prepare to lead now so you’ll be well-positioned for the transition to a post-pandemic world. Here are five things to help order your world.
Over-communicate, be more human, be kinder, and care more. Being remote isn’t an excuse to disengage. Your family, friends, and team need you to be present and engaged. Focus more than ever on being empathetic, helping, and serving. This is the time to broaden and deepen relationships, to listen and support — don’t miss this opportunity. Remember, you’re only on an island if you choose to burn the boat.
Take care of your people. A CEO recently asked me what was the No. 1 thing he needed to do right now? I’ve said it before, “But for the people, there are no platforms, products, systems, services, culture, customers, or company.” Put simply, without the people, you have nothing to lead. Care for your people and do the right thing. Be a real human being, not just another suit. Remember: Leaders not accountable to their people will eventually be held accountable by their people.
Seek leadership ubiquity. If leadership doesn’t scale, neither will your organization. Leadership that isn’t transferable, repeatable, scalable, and sustainable isn’t leadership at all. Not everyone can be the CEO, but everyone can lead. Real leaders shine during times of crisis. Your people will step up if given a chance; give them that chance and do it now. If you tell people they’re not leaders often enough, don’t be surprised when they start to believe you.
Static thinking does little more than sentence your mind to a lifetime of mediocrity. Now more than ever, be quick and agile in thought and deed. The key to navigating the present is to understand the present is merely a springboard to the future. Therefore, don’t think snapshot — think filmstrip. Move thoughtfully, boldly, and quickly. Work your way through the present but have clarity around the desired future state. This, too, shall pass, and you must get prepared to lead in a post-pandemic world.
05 WORKFORCE DYNAMICS
Reimagine your team. If most of your workforce is still working remotely, reimagine the roles your people play and how they can unlock hidden value. Give them the freedom to team and collaborate differently. Permit them to take on new challenges and responsibilities. Stop the madness, and let this be your mantra: If it’s stupid, it’s not our policy. Now that the landscape has changed, it presents a unique opportunity to eliminate typical corporate dependencies, such as an overabundance of harmful processes, stupid rules, ridiculous meetings, trivial projects, and the like.
Real leaders shine during a crisis because leadership matters. Poor leadership cripples businesses, ruins economies, destroys families, loses wars, and can bring the demise of nations. The demand for real leaders has never been higher. When society misunderstands the importance of leadership or when the world inappropriately labels misleaders as leaders, we are all worse for the wear.
This means you are the single biggest threat wandering around in your ecosystem. This means you are the single biggest risk to your success in the workplace and with your spouse, children, and friends. If you are in a position of leadership, you will lead — you will either lead people toward the right things or lead them astray — but you will lead.
My encouragement to you is to lead well and help others lead well. This is the fastest path to a positive and productive future in a post-pandemic world.