The evolution of leadership during COVID-19

Has leadership truly evolved during COVID-19? That is a question this author has been contemplating. One must first consider that leadership does not apply only to business, but to all areas of life. Let’s first start with what true leaders actually do. Leaders inspire, motivate, develop and help others realize their full potential. Leadership is not a position or title. The reality is we are all leaders in some capacity.

Leaders today are faced with unprecedented challenges. There is no playbook on how to best respond during this current pandemic and we are all trying to figure out the best approaches. There are valuable lessons to be learned if we are paying attention. One such lesson is that we must adapt in order to survive and thrive. This includes how we lead. This is a time to step up and show up ready to serve. Here are six ways to navigate and lead through this crisis.

1. Be understanding.
People are scared, anxious, and uncertain about the future. Check in with people and find out how they are doing. Be sincere, listen, and have empathy. Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
2. Communicate often and with transparency.
We are social beings and long for connection. Communicate often, share what is happening, and answer questions and concerns honestly and timely. In the absence of information people tend to imagine the worst. This can lead to confusion and frustration. Be clear, truthful, and thoughtful.
3. Focus on the good.
It is too easy to get caught up in negativity. Make a point to recognize and shine a light on those doing good work and set a positive example for others. Celebrate the wins.
4. Ask for help.
No one has all the answers. Ask for help when needed and listen with an open mind. Vulnerability is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. The moment one thinks they have all the answers they close themselves off to learning and growing. In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
5. Be flexible.
We can have well thought out plans in place, but we must remain flexible when things do not go as we hoped. Expect the unexpected. Have contingency plans and focus on solutions and not problems. Be open to alternative ideas and out of box thinking.
6. Take action and do the work.
Continue to make forward progress. Have clear short-term and long-term goals that are measurable and have specific timelines with accountability built in. Momentum is key.

In closing, it takes work, focus, and dedication to navigate challenging times. This is an opportunity to elevate your leadership game, build trust, be other-focused, create more meaningful relationships and better results, and positively impact lives.