The world of work, and indeed the world, has changed as we know it. Senior leaders are facing unprecedented challenges they have likely never faced before, and it’s clear that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will be felt for years to come. Past experiences are insufficient, and it has become increasingly necessary to learn new behaviours and ways of doing things. This crisis also provides us with an opportunity to not only survive, but drive the recovery process in the new world of work we are all emerging into…
A significant challenge to all leaders in this environment, is to develop a way forward where there is no definitive guide in which to do so. Quick decisions are having to be made, but not to the detriment of the longer-term organisational goals – agility, adaptability and flexibility are key.
In times of uncertainty and complexity, old leadership tools no longer work. With change, we need to shift our leadership lens and free ourselves from unhelpful mind traps.
How could you do that? Think about what your current belief systems are and how you can challenge yourself to think and operate differently. Becoming aware of these mind traps is the first step; listening to alternative perspectives enables you to develop further.
For making improved strategic decisions, leaders need to display a high level of resilience to make the difficult decisions. We need to accept the new emergent world and its new places of work, we are not going back to pre-Covid, we are emerging into a new world reality, where we will need to lean and relax into this new state of being. Be open to new ways of thinking, be willing to shift your perspective, experiment at the edges, and expand upon a range of possibilities to find the approach that works in the moment. Diverse ways of thinking will need to come to the forefront. Leaders need to embrace new perspectives from others, regardless of hierarchy, in order to grow better together.
Employees want more transparency and openness from their leaders. They want to know the person behind the mask, who they are as people, what makes them tick, and what vision they have for the organisation in the future. Leaders should demonstrate vulnerability and authenticity in interactions with others – it is courageous and builds rapport and trust.
Thought leadership can not only stimulate business growth but can fuel opportunities for employee engagement. Employees want to know exactly what is going on so they can prepare themselves for what’s next and contribute in a positive way. In times of crisis, leaders must be able to link the organisation to a societal purpose, share a narrative guide, and bring everyone together around a particular strategy. This is what brings about that all important sense of belonging and motivation to work towards a collective goal.
Here are some prompts to help business leaders, human resource managers and other thought leaders to focus on what is working in your company and what can be done to continue to grow:
- How have you approached things differently during the current crisis?
- What is your company great at doing? And not so great at?
- Consider areas that your company can focus on developing differently, thereby enabling an environment that can flourish and grow. Focus on collaboration. Share ideas. Share your vision.
- Continue to build holistic relationships with clients and shareholders who share your strategic plans for the future. This will bring about further growth opportunities.
- Consider the effects of any financial, political and social decisions – how do you want the organisation to be perceived in the future?
Times such as these also bring new leadership talent to the top. Nurture and develop these people as they are the ones who are likely to be proactive and take more risks. On the flipside, times like these will also showcase gaps in your team. Forget the traditional norms. Your ideal talent might be overseas. Remote working has made your potential workforce far broader and more accessible, and this will only strengthen your organisation further.
And let’s not forget that we have entered a new era of digitisation. Leaders should embrace digital tools and best practices – with a large majority of the workforce working from home, and a real focus on innovation to survive, digitalisation of business is crucial to long-term success. However, be aware of over reliance on technology – creating the right balance between both technical and human ways of working will be imperative moving forward.
Our future might be significantly changed but it is still full of hope. This is a huge learning curve for us all, but it is a necessary one. Embrace new behaviours and learn from them. Shift your belief system, listen to others, and really focus on your people and yourself. Instead of controlling outcomes, try and influence them instead for a better outcome. Stay agile. Show empathy. Be flexible. Be courageous.
If you have not done so yet, open yourself to professional coaching and experience how this thought-provoking and creative process can inspire you to maximize your personal and professional potential.
If you need support on your organisation’s and leader’s coaching journey, do contact us at ICF and our team of volunteers in South Africa will be happy to help.
Joanna Bown is an ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC), based in the UK with more than eighteen years of experience as an Executive Coach for corporate executives, senior management and leadership teams and professional individuals. Her approach includes Integral Coaching, Leadership Development, Somatic Intelligence, Systemic Constellations for Business, Enneagram, and human behaviour change, creating meaning, ensuring that she remains current in the learning of these disciplines to maintain a depth of knowledge in her coaching.
Joanna worked in Corporate Banking with Citigroup, South Africa for ten years, for some time as a Senior VP overseeing Multinational clients across industry sectors. She partly managed the Multinational business segment for CEEMEA from Brussels and London for some months, covering 16 industries across 38 countries. Her previous experience as a Vice President in international banking allows her to understand key issues in the corporate and banking world and how they relate to a corporate client’s business environment.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organization leading the global advancement of the coaching profession and fostering coaching’s role as an integral part of a thriving society. Founded in 1995, its 35,000-plus members located in more than 140 countries and territories work toward common goals of enhancing awareness of coaching and upholding the integrity of the profession through lifelong learning and upholding the highest ethical standards. Through the work of its six unique family organizations, ICF empowers professional coaches, coaching clients, organizations, communities and the world through coaching.