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Are You a Resilient, Agile Leader?

It's one thing for leaders to respond to an epidemic, a natural disaster, or any other catastrophe. It's another to manage the aftermath of such disruption.

Recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has subjected four out of five workers to quarantine or lockdowns, calls on leaders to develop talent strategies for short- and long-term success.


Resilient, agile leaders help their organizations, workforce, and stakeholders address current needs and move forward by

  • shifting their mindset from short-term response to longer-term recovery;

  • recognizing uncertainties and navigate through them;

  • building and reinforcing trust among stakeholders;

  • launching a recovery plan that includes clear goals; and

  • learning from what others accomplish.

They will navigate from this current crisis to a "new normal" in three steps:

  • Crisis management: Respond to the situation to help move past it.

  • Reflection: Recover from the emergency, reflect on lessons learned, and prepare for future disruptions.

  • Creating the new paradigm: Imagine new futures

  • Implementation: Shepherd the workforce through transformative change

Crisis Management

Many organizations have adjusted to the pandemic by prioritizing health and safety, enabling employees to work from home, using new technologies. Other organizations are still struggling with the current crisis, surviving week by week and unable to plan for the future.


Regardless of their current circumstances, all organizations need to develop new strategies for success in the post-pandemic world. Organizations with outdated business models or fundamentally changed markets face the most significant challenges. Their leaders must consider alternative business models, products, and services to create sustainable, future-friendly strategies. Agile leaders will face these challenges head-on, regarding adaptation and recovery as essential parts of their journey. Then they will take decisive action that suits their location and industry.


Reflection


Organizations that have adapted to the pandemic can now evaluate current practices and reposition themselves to address new realities. It is tempting to shrug off reflection and pretend that everything will return to normal. However, those who go back to their old ways might struggle to compete against organizations that reassess their business models and talent strategies.


As organizations recover, effective leaders will differentiate between essential and non-essential resources. They will collaborate with others to discover creative solutions.


Creating the New Paradigm


The pandemic, along with dramatic changes in technologies and business models, presents an opportunity to reallocate tasks and reimagine the workplace. Of course, leaders cannot expect to have detailed timelines, but it is good to start envisioning the post-pandemic world and working toward it.


Leaders can work together to share insights about recovery strategies and define the organization's priorities and overall direction. Considering three key topics will help shape their thinking:

  • Purpose: What are the organization's mission, vision, and values?

  • Potential: How will the organization be designed to achieve its potential?

  • Perspective: How can the organization move confidently into the future?

Each organization will have unique dilemmas to resolve – many of them focused on the workforce. Some organizations might rehire furloughed employees. And some might recruit more employees or bring on "gig" workers. Many are looking at AI and automation to perform routine or repetitive tasks and assign more intricate work to people.


Some leaders will debate how much to support working from home versus the office and whether to make work schedules more flexible. With staff having worked remotely for many months, leaders are reevaluating the need for office space. If they reopen their offices, they must how much workspace they will need. Many leaders may plan to accommodate teams that work remotely for most of the time and meet only occasionally in person.


Implementation


Stephen Hawking famously said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Skillful leaders will move quickly to implement the changes that will help their organizations succeed. But they anticipate the tensions that could arise as people adapt to a new reality and address these tensions with vision and empathy. They realize that transformative change can affect individuals, teams, and organizations differently. They understand that not every individual will cope in the same way – acknowledging that one person can be comfortable in the new normal while another isn't. They consider and balance these needs and preferences to retain and nourish trust.


There is still tremendous uncertainty in the global workforce, but one thing we know for sure: clients, customers, suppliers, partners, and employees are waiting and watching as organizations redefine their brands, reestablish their reputations, reposition themselves to compete, and achieve success in the post-COVID world. Organizations with resilient, agile leaders at the helm are the most likely to thrive.