We have always heard a lot of different stories and theories about good leadership. Different authors perceive different opinions in recognizing and identifying what it takes to become a good leader, visionary leader. Thus making it even possible to have misconception about leadership blinded by societal illusions such as recognition, wealth and what ones preaches but not practices. Sinmon Sinek who is a New York Times best selling author of many self help and leadership books has stated that leadership is all about integrity, honestly and accountability in his latest leadership book ‘Leaders eat last.’ There are many books, workshops and training programs on teaching about leadership and training people to become great leaders, but the question remains how far behind we are as a company, as a nation from a great leadership? Let’s look at some examples and case studies in the recent history and how we can inculcate such lessons in the future to thrive as a company, as a nation to battle the global pandemic and strive together as a company, as a country together and stronger.
As the famous Christian saying goes as, healthy people do not need doctors, so does holy people do not need churches,but churches are built for sinners. Just Like how Peter D’Almeida (2020) has stated, “You don’t need great leaders in good times, but in bad times.” The COVID-19 global pandemic outbreak has shaken the whole world, striking economies, shattering businesses and causing many job losses in many countries,even putting millions to death bed. Even if we accept it or not, Corona Virus has changed our day to day lives dramatically disrupting our day to day activities.However, the only bright side to this global pandemic was the positive impact over the climate change, less urbanization, and the rapid growth of the digital phase in the world, from developed countries to developing nations. Therefore, it is utmost important for economies and companies to identify and implement strategies to come over this global crisis and for that we need a great leadership and strategic vision, as a nation or as an organization.
Technology enables people new opportunities to work flexibly and to create organizations that are only possible through virtually connected global markets. As the world is experiencing seamless, digital world overtaking the businesses and processes, people need to acquire new skills in order to find employment that suits them. Instead of attempting to avoid these improvements, pushing in on them and taking action to expand access to opportunity is the progressive approach.Today begins with this new progressive plan, and with us, together, finding out how to make it real and who will do what. Tomorrow, countries, enterprises, entrepreneurs and communities will be responsible for working together to bring about positive and meaningful change through technology.The pandemic gripping the world will pass in time, but technology’s disruptive influence will stay with us. There is an opportunity in the midst of the crisis. For this, visionary leadership is a must both in organizations and country.
The transformation would be radical and uneven.The danger of revived corona virus waves persists as economies slowly recover.The challenge of leading individuals through confusion and into the new reality brings timeless criteria to a sharper focus for leaders. Empathy and versatility at any moment are essential leadership qualities at this very moment. These attributes are even more important in order to keep teams united, committed, and empowered when workers undergo unexpected and radical changes, such as the need to work remotely or in highly limited workspace for an extended time.
Here we focus on five key areas that has brought change within and outside of the organization by the new normal, and how leaders and organizations can proactively response towards the new normal despite of having to face uncomfortable difficult situations during the process, but harness the ultimate value by effectively responding to the crisis timely and accurately.
1. Change in working hours and time
Few bright points of this unintentional remote working is that, by creating and supporting a more extensive virtual working infrastructure, they have discovered for many companies that they can minimize costs and achieve efficiencies. In addition, as many employees have now become accustomed to minimizing their commute or spending extra quality time with family, work life balance has got better on the bright side of remote working. Leaders should actually take this as an opportunity to show their subordinates how flexible and caring they are. However as a good leadership requires effective people management, task management and time management skills, it is also important for them to assign tasks to each individual with set time and guidelines to prevent any delays and failure. The challenge here is to virtually monitor working time and increase productivity and efficiency, while making sure workers are not overwhelmed by over-working. Therefore, leaders and managers should be empathetic specially during such situations and empower and inspire workers to work on flexible hours but deliver tasks on time. This again has a positive impact on employee’s well-being.
2. Physical locations, meetings, and Traveling to work
As virtual working or rather working from home is emerging and most of the companies are still likely to continue to work from home even after the pandemic as it’s a huge cost saving element for organizations reducing substantial costs such as rentals, utility fees, and even operational costs. However, companies may still require occasional meetings, and leaders have the option of exploiting this opportunity to covert in to an revenue stream or cost saving factor by simply converting the office space into co-working space and rent out, or giving up on the office space, and rent meeting rooms, or private offices from co-working spaces when it requires, as it saves huge cost in the organization which can be utilized again to compensate employees working from home to pay off their Wi-Fi fees, or add to their bonuses as it will help during such hard times, or even reserve savings for future investments. Taking such proactive decisions is vital during such crisis situations as leaders, and a lot of leaders in a lot of companies have already implemented such strategies already for example, Fortune Global which is a Sri Lankan tech company has asked all the employees to continue to work from home, and have refurbished the office to convert to a co-working space, and have only occupied a small space and a meeting room for internal use when required. Mike Salguero, Founder and CEO of ButcherBox, says they were searching for a new office space or to renovate the office space, and now they have decided to structure a flexible format less dedicated offices and desks and to have more collaborative rooms, meeting spaces and broad conferences spaces.
3. Availability of resources and access to resources
When working from home, the availability of resources and access for resources is limited by for employees to ensure seamless working process.Therefore organizations have to ensure the employees are well resourced at least the basic environment is set to perform well virtually. As leaders eats last, leaders also can take the extra mile to cross question each employee asking for what they need during this times, because situation is different from one to another, and perhaps some might not even have a table and a chair at their shared apartments or employees living in hostels to perform their job successfully. This is an vital element for leaders to look at and act em pathetically while adding value to its employees who takes care of their business at the end of the day.
4. Change in Employment contracts and regulations
As the employee contracts, labor laws are quite traditionally structured around a fixed date and time frames and locations, it is quite vague to understand the elements to be covered in a structured employment contract. Some countries may even have loopholes in their regulation system for virtual employees, as it may vary from one company to another. However changing the employee contracts is an option if its critical to do so, but as leaders should know as to when its important to change and have contracts to be signed on annually renewal basis, thereby ensuring the organization can let go any underperforming employees at the end of each contract. Good leadership requires understanding these elements and ensure the employees are also taken care of and are in partnership with the company protected by the law.
5. Change and impact of organizational culture
Working from home dilutes the organizational culture and it becomes vaguer for leaders to understand the fit or the mis-fit between organizations and its people. Therefore it is very important for leaders to ensure that the team meets physically at least once a week or two. Leaders can organize various activities and events to build the team spirit and up bring the culture. However handling and building an organizational culture virtually is really difficult. Therefore this should be lead carefully, as Simon Sinek states in his book, Where the leader goes, so does the company culture. Thus implying the culture of the organization navigates around the leader and the leadership style.
Crises such as the one we face today push companies and their leaders to adjust and adapt at exceptional pace. Those who can block out the noise and concentrate on what really drives achievement will emerge stronger than ever, leading with head and heart is quite vital in such critical times.
I would also like to hear your stories and experience on leaders that have created positive impact on your organizations and among people’s lives, especially during such crisis moments. Please do let us know below in comments section, how your leaders created positive change in your life, and how they lead your people out of the crisis. I am also waiting to hear your thoughts and opinions on my discussion about leadership on this blog article.