It’s apparent that many people’s definition of an ‘essential worker’ has surely changed during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly industries and business models that once seemed rock solid are now temporarily superfluous. At an individual level, we also might be questioning what our purpose is and who we want to be when we emerge into our old, but altered, environments.
Empowering leaders through career coaching, mentoring and self-discovery is as important now as it will be later as we figure out what changes we want to make for ourselves, our organisations and communities to make a difference. You might be thinking about your role as an emerging leader, or the changes you’d like to see from existing leadership. Here are some thoughts on what leadership can learn from our current crisis, and qualities we can all try to incorporate into the way we lead.
Confident leaders stand out, but a boss who checks their ego on their way to the office will build a strong team full of people who have ideas and will have no problem listening to them. Many successful people such as Steve Jobs recommend hiring people smarter than them, but it can feel personally risky to encourage others with better knowledge or expertise as it exposes what you don’t know. Rather than feeling threatened, this can be an opportunity to facilitate faster progression on a project and demonstrate that you are a constant learner, always looking to improve rather than stagnate. We all know a manager who is stuck in their ways, and we can pretty much all agree that just because “it’s always been done that way” doesn’t mean it should be done that way forever. A strong and innovative team is a good reflection of a good leader.
A humble leader also knows “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’”, and no one’s job should be seen as less valuable than another. It is interesting that it has taken a global pandemic for many of us to realise that often the people who are the lowest paid and sometimes considered to be doing ‘unskilled’ work are the people who are keeping our communities fed, safe and healthy. Whatever inconveniences you might be experiencing locally, these are probably nothing in comparison to the severe inconveniences empty supermarkets and trash-lined streets would be causing. As a leader, knowing and acknowledging that every team member has value can be the first step towards earning reciprocal respect.
A leader who thinks of others first is less likely to make decisions that negatively impact people and their environments. A more selfless leader also can see the bigger picture and how everyone fits into it, rather than simply their narrow, more internally focused view. Our current situation shows us that an “I want” mentality gets us nowhere when everyone is struggling in various ways. To lead with empathy is not taking a soft approach, but actually is a method of being forward-thinking. If we consider how our business and leadership decisions may affect someone mentally, emotionally and even financially we are able to predict what the fallout of that decision may be.
A more selfless leader can see the bigger picture and how everyone fits into it.
These are just a few ways that we can all lead for the better, whether we manage teams now or aim to step up in the future. The right kind of leadership is more important than ever before, not only for our co-workers but for our larger communities. There are still more testing times ahead, but there are emerging leaders ready to make changes in existing companies and companies that are yet to be built.
Are you one of them?