The return to a new state of normalcy is underway as the effects of the pandemic become more tightly controlled. But keeping all the pieces together when dealing with its aftermath - as one challenge compounds another - has become a superhuman mission that tests leaders every day.
At the same time, leaders are having to grapple with other things that are very hard to ignore, such as the Great Resignation, which according to our research is something that has made employee retention the top priority for organisations in 2022. Other challenges include hybrid working patterns and the diverse demands of employees and the kind of organisations they want to work for. For example, our survey found that two-thirds of employees don’t intend to return to pre-Covid working arrangements. For these reasons it can be argued that demands on leaders have never been greater.
As it’s such a challenging time for leaders, they’re having to up their game. There are a number of capabilities that require sharpeningfor leadership in this new economy. The top two requests we are seeing the most relate to leaders needing to be much better communicators and inspirers. It is important that every leader is an enthusiastic and energising communicator, because in the new world they’re having to create clarity and reset the focus on a continual basis.
The second trend we are observing is the need to support leaders with becoming more resilient. We believe this is 100 per cent a teachable skill. Amid this backdrop of massive change, they’re working from home often, they’re usually less connected and also having to deal with different home situations.
Helping leaders with the small but brilliant elements of human science will assist them in knowing how to tap into this, in order to get the best out of people. I think that if everybody understood this, the world would be a more positive place.
Encouraging a culture of growth and positivity is key. Employee experience is now recognised as an important way to retain talent – confirmed by over half (59 per cent) of our survey respondents. During the same research, it was highlighted that a culture change begins at the top, and that CEOs influence 85 per cent of the change. Therefore, it’s vital that companies are able to do what we call ‘gripping the culture’ – which is about – ‘it’ll be what it’ll be, unless you grip it and make it what you want it to be’.
We aim to simplify it for organisations and it’s down to four key aspects. Number one – leaders at the top of the firm need to create clarity and set the tone. Number two – the next level of leadership must be able to create the right climate. Number three – you need to focus on getting everybody’s mindset into a high performance space. Number four – be clear on the behaviours that are required across the whole organisation.
Then the job is to embed that culture, by aligning it to every people mechanism that exists in the business – from the way that you recruit, you induct and all of the additional human touch points.
In spite of everything that’s happened off the back of the pandemic, the key components of successful leadership remain the same. Leaders have always been required to step up and commit to making difficult decisions in a timely manner – the pandemic however, has just made that all the more obvious. After all, the first job of leadership is to set the direction and tone – especially when managing the aftermath of unprecedented change. In the current turbulent climate, leaders need to dust themselves off and pick up the baton. They must ‘shift and reframe’ their thinking and reaction to change, so that they can create engagement and feel positive about the change.
Resilience as I’ve mentioned previously, is a skill which can be learnt and something which will help leaders create an environment where people are trusted, permission is extended, barriers are removed and waste is eliminated so that change thrives.
So, whilst leaders might have to dig deep – what’s required here is that leaders proactively take steps to build resilient practices into their working day – every day. Ultimately, this helps leaders to become teachers and inspirers in terms of building resilient employee mindsets and provides them with the skills required to create strategies to help people cope with change.