This lockdown is a great time to learn how to pandemic-proof your leadership style. That’s the good news. The challenge is that it all starts with you!
Through the digital looking glass
“The inmates are running the asylum!” That concept originated from the 1920 cult film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Unfortunately lots of managers feel that way today.
Back in the good ol’ days, when bosses reigned supreme and dinosaurs roamed freely, CEOs snapped their fingers and subordinates jumped! Nobody expected executives to make photocopies or to even know how the infernal machines worked!
Everyone—mostly females—was expected to know how he liked his coffee. He barked orders demanding higher productivity and greater efficiency and workers snapped to it. Forty, 50, or 80-hour work weeks; strained marriages; ulcers—they delivered no matter the cost. He barked. They jumped. And all was right with the world [of the power brokers, at least].
“It Came From Outer Space”
In 2020 when an alien life form called COVID-19 crashed into our planet it turned everything and everyone upside down. In fact, it created what some might call the perfect storm for utter calamity. And the pandemic, the subsequent lockdown, and the increased dependency on digital technology, flipped the script on executives.
Now those with the greatest technical proficiency in corporations around the globe have recalibrated leadership and compelled some CEOs to assume a whole new persona.
In a recent research report, MIT Sloan Management Review found that “Leaders’ emphasis on greater efficiency and productivity has provoked a backlash, particularly from a digitally savvy workforce. Digital talent now expects more from leadership than greater flexibility, better compensation, and/or productivity-supporting work environments. Our research suggests that digitally savvy workforces expect digital transformation to better reflect and respect their concerns and values, not just ensure superior business capabilities and opportunities.”
How to pandemic-proof your leadership style: resilience!
Ironically the key to stability in the marketplace is the ability to absorb instability easily. Shock absorbency and flexibility are the ballast that helps keep businesses afloat. And it’s vital that they be engrafted into your business model. Together they make up what’s now more commonly called “business resilience”.
According to youmatter.world, “Business resilience is a business-wide term that comprises crisis management and business continuity and that represents the ability of organizations to rapidly adapt and respond to all types of risks – such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, supply chain disruptions, among others.”
Today business resilience means leading through change. And that means executives must surrender to the process of being stripped of the elitism, the titular privilege, and the kind of social distancing that rank commands— and even demands.
Airs of superiority may stink in the nostrils of some employees who decry the hierarchical treachery of the corporate ladder. Younger, socially conscious employees want to be valued for their contributions to the company as professionals and as fellow-human beings. Social distance as a COVID-protocol is one thing; but they are rejecting social distance as a declaration of personal superiority.
So business resilience means dumping overboard all information and technological silos. All hands on deck means just that—rank and title notwithstanding. People in the same sinking ship need to act like it and work together or they’ll all sink—rank and title notwithstanding.
How to pandemic-proof your leadership style: DiSC
In his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell said, “When leaders match people to roles in the organization, it’s not enough for them to weigh what people have done in the past. They must also consider what people could do if the environment allowed them to flourish.”
Dear leaders! So much to change all at once! So unfair and yet so necessary! Leaders, we all know you’re neither villains or superheroes. You’re people and should be regarded as such. And you must risk the vulnerability of recognizing yourselves as such— neither villains or superheroes—people.
Becoming more self-aware is the first step you’ll need to take in order to embrace the new demands on you as your leadership role morphs over and over. And DiSC personality profile training can facilitate that first step. Dominant. Influential. Steadfast. Conscientious. You’re one or more of these personality types and the better you understand them, the more tolerant you’ll become—of yourself, in particular.
Insights into your own behavior will help you understand and accept your colleagues and subordinates. It will provide the clarity you need in order to adjust your perspective on your company, your staff, and yourself as a leader.
Take a deep breath, embrace your ever-changing duties in this daring new world, and enjoy the adventure with a little help from your friends.