Here are some competencies that will differentiate successful leaders, not in any order of priority in the post-Covid-19 workplace.

It’s a tipsy topsy world today and none of us really have a rule book to follow. Everyone is learning on the go and as the situation is evolving. Organisations started with dealing with prolonged work from home, how to ensure productivity while working remotely, how to ensure business continuity during the lockdown, and so on.

No one was prepared for this situation to continue for so long. And as the situation continues to unfold, newer challenges keep coming up. Increased number of cases, increased unemployment, increased fear and anxiety, increased financial crunch, increased pressure on the business.

In such a situation, managers and leaders have a pivotal role to play. On one end, they are accountable for business results and on the other end, they are also responsible for the productivity and well-being of their teams.

Tall ask, given the situation and its constraints. It is at this time that exemplary leaders will get differentiated. Some competencies that will differentiate successful leaders, not in any order of priority, are:

1. Mindful choices: At this time, leaders will need to prioritize and choose where to focus. They might need to relook at business models, business lines, product lines, marketing channels, sales channels and restructure the business in line with the evolving marketplace. This will need foresightedness and agility, and the ability to feel the pulse of the evolving customer and consumer needs.

2. Collaboration and partnerships: Leveraging synergies within and outside the organisation to maximise innovation, cost-effective route to market, analytics across functions, availability of cost-effective relevant talent will be key to business recovery and success.

3. Taking care of their people: Unfortunately, this pandemic has impacted a lot of people through job losses and pay cuts. Leaders and managers who can maintain psychologically safe and emotionally resilient teams even during these times will truly see the impact of what motivated teams can do. This possibly is the most critical competency and most challenging.

4. Emotional resilience: A leader’s own emotional resilience in such challenging times is the cornerstone of what he or she can achieve directly or through his/ her team. Staying calm and focused even in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity will go a long way.

5. Courage, Authenticity and humility: Everyone looks at managers and leaders for answers, while the truth is, that in current times, they might not have all the answers. And it is ok to say so. Leaders who have the courage to say that they don’t have the answers now but will try to get them to have the trust of their teams.

6. Lead from the front: Don’t expect the team to do anything that you won’t do yourself- so if you are expecting your sales team to be in the market, or your manufacturing team to be on the floor, be there first. Show ownership and accountability.

7. Adaptability and flexibility: The situation is evolving and we will need to keep evolving with it. A learning and growth mindset, as opposed to ‘been there, done that’ will allow managers and leaders to experiment, learn from mistakes and failures, and also inculcate the same ethos in their team members.

8. Inclusive leadership: With teams working from home, some in the field, some on sites, managers and leaders have to play the role of the binding glue, that brings people together on a common purpose, vision, goal, where everyone feels values and included. Managers need to mindfully remember to not let ‘out of sight, out of mind’ take over.

9. Continue to develop people: While training budgets might be slashed, formal development journeys might be on hold, good managers and leaders continue to coach team members on the job, even while working remotely.

Trust them with projects, new responsibilities, guide them, challenge them. Because it is this talent that will stay with you and the organisation during and after the pandemic.

These are challenging times and challenging times do reveal character. The year 2020 will surely make a chapter or more in the history books of the future, with stories of how humankind overcame this challenge…What needs to be seen is which leaders and organisations get mentioned in that chapter and for what.

Authored by Sonica Aron, Founder & Managing Partner, Marching Sheep