New normal requires new leadership


Now is the time to check your capacity for change. Ask yourself, what will successful leadership look like in a post-pandemic world? Are you ready to lead differently to meet the demands of an indefinite future?

Prepare for a New Normal

No one knows what to expect as we emerge from the pandemic crisis. However, the business environment is unlikely to return to the “normal” that we knew any time soon, if ever.

To survive and flourish in a new normal, leaders must be willing to change. Conventional approaches and capabilities are unlikely to be effective in our post-Covid-19 environment.

Steps for Self-assessment and Growth

Now is the time for every leader to commit to personal growth. Start by developing a keen self-awareness to establish your foundation for growth.

The following three steps will jumpstart your self-assessment:

Step 1: Examine your assumptions.

What are your assumptions about the nature of strong leadership? Do they hold up in the present circumstances?

Many of us think and act on autopilot much of the time. We tend to repeat actions that have resulted in successful outcomes in our past. Perhaps this approach makes sense when our world is stable. Yet stability is fleeting and, at times, almost nonexistent. Your well-worn assumptions may let you down.

  • Write down your assumptions about a leadership challenge you face. List your basis or proof for these assumptions. Can you think of exceptions? Ask yourself what would be different if these assumptions did not exist. Would you make different decisions?
  • Invite others to challenge you. Ask them to tell you what you might be missing or where their expertise, either supplements or contradicts your current way of thinking.
  • Broaden your definitions. For example, do you assume that strong leaders must hide their fears and vulnerabilities? What is your evidence for this belief? Perhaps your definition of strength implies that a leader must always have answers. Now try a broader meaning. Maybe real power comes from the ability to find the best solutions.
  • Seek out or facilitate conversations with others who can bring fresh perspectives. The new challenges going forward may require you to frame issues differently. Conventional expertise may not apply smoothly to the problems at hand.

Engage in discussions with others who might have a fresh perspective. Give up any tendency to assert your authority or superiority. Instead, enter into these conversations as an equal.

The value of ideas does not depend on a person’s position or role. Have the courage to acknowledge that better approaches will emerge from true collaboration with others. Allow yourself to change.

Step 2: Commit to Intentional Learning

Conventional leaders often assume that their expertise will enable them to address leadership challenges. Yet, the complexity of the world right now means that the efficacy of any individual’s knowledge is limited.

While your expertise may help you move ahead successfully, it could also limit how you think about the opportunities and threats.

  • Explore both the value and the shortcomings of your knowledge. For example, does your expertise open up or limit the depth and breadth of strategies for achieving your goals? And while you are at it, consider whether answers may lie in changing your goals rather than devising strategies for attaining your existing objectives.
  • Create conditions for discoveries. One way to learn is to study your own new and unique experiences. Envisioneer from the Center for Creative Leadership, Jerry Abrams suggests that we must become intentional self-observers.

Abrams suggests that you take a few minutes at the end of every day to write down four things: 1) what did you expect to happen during the day, 2) what actually happened during the day, 3) what are the gaps between what you expected and what happened, 4) what can you learn from this difference.

Perhaps the outcome was terrible, or maybe surprisingly good. Either way, capture what you learned. Then analyze and write down what you think you should do differently, or similarly the next time.

Abrams claims that by capturing your answers to these four questions every day, you will begin to see patterns that can lead to learning and growth.

Step 3: Lift your purpose.

Ideally, a specific purpose already guides your company. Keep it top of mind going forward. And clarify your value as a leader.

Denise Roberson, Chief Purpose Officer of the advertising agency, TBWAChiatDay states that the brands with a clear purpose are coming out of this crisis in better shape than others.

Purpose-based brands have reacted the quickest and have had the most value to offer the market as the crisis unfolds. Roberson argues that leaders were able to use purpose as a lens for viewing opportunities. Their purpose guides their internal communications and enables them to respond nimbly to the new needs and conditions.

Roberson claims that the magic comes from overlaying personal purpose with company purpose. What do you stand for as a leader? What is the value you provide to the conversation and the organization?

Our world is always changing. However the pandemic crisis has escalated the ongoing changes and created some new ones. To lead successfully in this evolving landscape, leaders must grow and change as well. Now is the time to prepare for a new future. Take three steps to assess your assumptions and to prepare for embracing a new kind of leadership.