Many of us have been leading from home – as millions of people are still working from home without choice or previous experience. This has been tough but it has also offered the opportunity (and challenge) to lead in very different circumstances. A time for reflection and growth.
You have a unique opportunity to rethink your leadership
Hopefully, many of us will be getting back to the office soon. We are looking forward to working closely with colleagues again. Some things may change for ever and others will revert to how they were before. But one thing is for sure: this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you to rethink and rewire your leadership – to do things differently when you get back – individually and in your shared leadership teams.
How will your leadership change?
1. A window of opportunity. We like to think that we learn and grow our leadership skills as we go along, and that through experience and training we become a better leader. That is somewhat correct but the truth is that it takes much more to make larger, more significant changes. We all have our personalities, preferences and habits which are difficult to shift. But the period which we are going through, leading from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has short-circuited our situation and offered us – for good and for bad – an opportunity to rewire our leadership behaviour.
2. Timeout is time for reflection. It has given you a timeout opportunity to reflect upon your practice – if you dare. Be honest: have you been perfect or could you improve your leadership behaviour? If you have a growth mindset you will use this period to reflect back upon the feedback given to you and the results which you have achieved – during, but also before the pandemic. Only a weak leader would not appreciate feedback on what she or he could improve. Use it to make new sense of your leadership behaviour and its role in supporting your company’s strategy.
3. Live your values. One way of rethinking your leadership is to add your own identity to the strategy – add the values which guide you. Consider which important value(s) you have (in your life) that you have not fully lived up to in your leadership until now. What will you prioritize in future and which behavioural change will happen? An example could be: When I get back at the office I will change my leadership style by embracing the value: ‘Show Respect’. For me this means demonstrating more respect for colleagues regardless of their differences in personalities, backgrounds and abilities. This example could lead you to say what you would do differently such as: When I get back I will show more empathy, be more open for input, run meetings and communicate with the structure needed to embrace differences of opinions and approaches.
4. Be more authentic as a leader. So ask yourself: Which value(s) will you live going forward? Only by doing this can you lead with more authenticity. No one can tell you which values you should choose – only you know that. Obviously, your organisation has a culture and a set of values which you should agree with if you are to thrive in your job. But you can add your own if you are to be an authentic leader which others will follow. If you don’t have true followers, then you are not a true leader. Only you can change that. But it takes a timeout, reflection on your practice, others’ feedback, a conscious choice of values which characterize your authentic leadership and, last but not least, training.
5. Start immediately before the window closes. This has not just been another small change in our volatile world – it has been life-changing and is a unique, historical opportunity for individual decisiveness. Change yourself and your leadership for the better. Make a decision. Then just get going and practice, practice, practice. Don’t wait – make that change as soon as you get back at the office. Before the window of opportunity closes again – and it will!