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Operation post-pandemic: how to lead teams once again

Operation post-pandemic: how to lead teams once again

Guest post: written by Dan Murray-Serter from the influential business podcast Secret Leaders.

To say that the pandemic has changed everything is already cliché. So, let’s not say that. After all, certain things will never change, like the need for strong leadership. 

Having interviewed hundreds of successful business leaders for the Secret Leaders podcast, I’ve learned a thing or two about leadership. And the best leaders are those who can adapt.

Post-pandemic, effective leadership will look different. More human, flexible and trusting. And so it should. As if the pandemic has taught leaders anything, it’s how valuable their team is. 

Irrespective of whether a team returns to the office or continues to work from home, they need leaders they believe in to guide them through the COVID recovery. So what should leaders take in their stride to lead their team post-pandemic?

5 attributes for leaders to adopt post-pandemic

Be human

It’s been a turbulent time, to say the least. Given the global scale of the pandemic and the disruption it’s caused, not a single team member will be untouched by it. Leaders need to show empathy, understanding and, where appropriate, vulnerability. 

“As a leader, it’s been important to show empathy and vulnerability. We’re all going through this together”, Cal Henderson, co-founder and CTO of Slack. For Cal, regularly checking in and being open and honest strengthened the connection with his team.

After all, leaders are human too. Juggling childcare, remote working and coping with isolation hasn’t been easy for anyone, so why pretend otherwise? Be approachable and lead by example by initiating important conversations and prioritising positive mental health and wellbeing.

Be flexible

The leaders of more than 50 large UK firms are pushing for employees to return to the office. But plenty more employees are pushing back. The mistake these leaders will make is not taking their employees’ perspectives into account at all.

“[The pandemic] is going to show a lot of organisations that it’s possible to work in a distributed manner”, says Cal. Teams have proved that they can work from home effectively, so why fight it? Leaders ought to trust their teams to do their jobs and do them well. Autonomy is appreciated.

The lifting of restrictions brought joy to some but anxiety to many. Even with the appropriate hygiene and safety measures in place, leaders must accept the fact that not everyone will feel comfortable returning to the office.

A lot of peoples’ personal situations have changed too. Having the flexibility to start work or finish later, for instance, could help an employee manage a tricky childcare situation that pre-pandemic wasn’t an issue.

So, where possible, allow a degree of flexibility, whether that be a hybrid approach or flexible working.

Be tech-savvy

If you haven’t mastered the mute button by now, when will you? Technology leaves behind those who don’t keep up. Becoming tech-savvy is especially important for leaders with distributed teams. Leverage the best tech to collaborate and communicate effectively no matter where employees are. 

It’s worth leaders taking the time to review the current tools their team use to see if any efficiency gains can be made. And check out new tools. Despite the uncertainty, there’s been a surge in new startups emerging, especially in tech, so there could be better software on the market.

Team collaboration and comms aside, there are digital tools available to make leaders’ lives easier too. From accounting software to digital equity management platforms like Vestd, there’s cloud-based software designed to free up more of your time.

So many businesses want to bounce back to normality, but what if leaders can create better workflows and processes? What if there’s a better way of doing it? Now’s the time for leaders to be ambitious.

Be ambitious

Speaking of ambition, the post-pandemic world presents a unique opportunity. Not just for a business, but its leaders and its team. 

Whether that’s gaining an advantage over competitors, growing the business or targeting new audiences. Map out different scenarios, analyse competitor activity over the pandemic and re-evaluate customer needs. 

Review personal development plans and restart training initiatives, to get the team up to speed and give employees room to grow. Supposedly, a lot of self-self-confessed introverts thrived working at home. Those employees might be keen to take on more responsibility or even lead others.

With this new ambitious mindset, the team has to be aligned. Leaders reignite belief in the business by believing in its value and by sharing that with the team. So why not set up an employee share scheme, so everyone can share in its future success?

Be inspired by a newfound ambition. And instil confidence in each team player. But most of all, leaders, be human. 

If you’d like to hear powerful ideas and original perspectives to help you become a better leader, tune in to the Secret Leaders podcast. We ask successful entrepreneurs to tell us how they did it, spill the highlights, the lowlights and share the life lessons they learned along the way.

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