From Covid-19 to racial injustices to economic instability—a lot has happened since March 2020.
The world of work, and the world as we know it, is undeniably changed. And with that comes new leadership challenges, which many have already begun to realize. In a June 2020 McKinsey survey of more than 200 industries, two-thirds of executives said they "believe that this will be the most challenging moment in their executive career."
So how can you meet this moment? Below, we'll go over the top leadership challenges leaders and organizations can expect to face in the post-pandemic era-and how to overcome each one.
As 2020 and 2021 have shown us, things change quickly. It seems like one moment, jobseekers are having trouble snagging work, and in the next, they’re the ones quitting their roles. One leadership challenge many are facing is learning which leadership style to use and when.
Solution: Situational leadership
What is situational leadership? Situational leadership puts to rest the age-old question of “which leadership style is best?” by acknowledging that how you lead must adjust according to the situation. Developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, the Situational Leadership Model is a flexible way of leading that consists of four distinct leadership styles:
Another one of the leadership challenges organizations will face in a post-pandemic world is keeping employees engaged. As many people continue to work from home or shift to a hybrid work model, teams are dispersed. Without the in-person interaction, employees can lose touch with the mission of the organization and feel a lack of connection overall, leading to a lack of engagement.
After a year of living in a pandemic, the Great Resignation hit us almost as hard as the layoffs that preceded them. In a turning of the tables, employees were the ones choosing to leave their jobs. Why?
Given these many challenges, how can leaders combat attrition and increase retention?
The pandemic forced us to shift into survival mode-doing the bare minimum to stay safe and function. But as we shift out of the pandemic, how will we move from surviving to thriving?
Innovation took a hit during the Covid crisis. In a McKinsey survey published in July 2020, many companies admitted to "deprioritizing innovation" for the sake of "conserving cash and minimizing risk."
But there is good news: The McKinsey report authors write, “Crises are like adrenaline for innovation, causing barriers that once took years to overcome to evaporate in a matter of days.”
Solution: Cultivate psychological safety
So much focus for the past 20 months has been on physical safety: How can we keep our employees as safe as possible from Covid?
Now, if we want to reignite innovation in our teams, we must focus on psychological safety: How can we show our employees that it is safe for them to take risks in their work without fear of backlash for failing?
Innovation requires risk. Innovation involves failure. But if your team is too afraid of being punished for not succeeding when they’ve tried their best at a laudable goal-you will never achieve innovation.
Hard skills have long been valued (with good reason), but the pandemic highlighted the equally important soft skills, such as emotional intelligence. During a time of such emotional turmoil, leaders with a high EQ were better able to recognize, respond to and manage the emotions in themselves and others. Leaders who lacked the EQ, however, struggled to find their footing and bolster their team during such a stressful period.
Solution: Emotional intelligence coaching
Coaching can be an effective method for uncovering strengths and blind spots and working toward a goal with built-in accountability.
F4S offers emotional intelligence coaching based on more than 20 years of research. In our online program Increase EQ, you’ll receive personalized coaching from our AI-powered Coach Marlee. You'll learn about emotional intelligence, how to become more aware of your own feelings and how to read emotions in others. These skills will prove helpful during times of crisis and calm.
The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health, an area that was already often neglected by employers. Now, as it rightfully takes its place in the spotlight, leaders are scrambling to figure out how to support their employees’ mental health needs.
Think about your language and your communication. At the start of team check-ins, for example, you could lead a mental health check-in. This doesn’t have to be anything formal and is certainly not diagnostic. The goal is to simply create a culture where it’s normal to talk about mental health. For example, you might open with an icebreaker where everyone gets to state one thing they’re anxious about and one thing they’re grateful for. And then you kick it off, making your team feel safer to be open about what they’re anxious about.
Because of the pandemic, people need to reclaim work-life balance. Both remote and hybrid workers often end up working more than they did when they worked 100% on-site, simply because there aren’t clear boundaries when they work from home.
The results? After 12 weeks, managers rated employee creativity as 33% higher, happiness levels as 25% higher and productivity as 13% higher than before the experiment.
Maintaining culture is one of the biggest leadership challenges organizations are facing. As more and more switch to hybrid, managers worry about how they’ll safeguard their culture and avoid creating factions in teams that are split between work-from-home and on-site.
Creating challenging and fun events that can be done online is one way to align your team and preserve company culture, even while you’re far apart. Things like Zoom happy hours and virtual pub quizzes have become staples of pandemic work life, but feel free to mix it up and get creative. To prevent team building from becoming just another stressor added to their workload, though, keep virtual team building activities optional and consider paying employees who do choose to participate. Want an evidence-based way to form bonds among your team members? We offer a free online coaching program called Team Building. In this nine-week program, AI-powered Coach Marlee will help you uncover your team's mission, discover members' different communication styles, define your team values and more-all to help drive team cohesion.
You’ll, of course, need to weigh the risks of gathering in person during a pandemic with the benefits.
SessionLab, which was always fully remote, ran a hybrid retreat in 2021 where some of its employees gathered in Croatia, and others joined virtually. The teams focused on defining core values, aligning on team culture and team building-the things that co-founder Robert Cserti writes are "hardest to do online."
Sorry if it seems too soon to be talking about the “next” crisis before we’ve even gotten out of this one-but hear me out: Life is filled with wonderful, beautiful things, and it is filled with unexpected, difficult things too. One of the greatest leadership challenges is being prepared to lead through good times and bad.
Leadership development programs recruit top talent and prepare them for their roles as the next leaders of the organization. When these programs work well, it’s because they anticipate organizational needs and invest the time and resources into future leaders who will fill the pipeline.
For all of us, the pandemic was a time of great stress but also great learning. The lessons we learned the hard way can be taught to tomorrow’s leaders to prepare them for the next crisis. If you already have a leadership development program in place, select senior executives who could serve as mentors. Also, consider what you wish your leadership teams had known before the pandemic started, the skills you wished they’d focused on more. Teach these skills to the program participants.
Change management involves the skills needed to lead a team through a significant change. Crises, like a global pandemic, have the ingredients to effect a sudden change in an organization. So having change management skills at hand can help you prepare to stabilize and motivate your team through a crisis.
These include skills like resilience, trust-building and follow-through. Need help building your change management skills? We’ve got a personalized coaching program available for free that does just that. In Big Picture Thinker, Coach Marlee will guide you through how to zoom out in times of crisis to look at the bigger picture and get comfortable with ambiguity. Having this perspective will help you lead your team through tough times without getting overwhelmed.
Leadership challenges have always existed. But in a post-pandemic world, they’ll look a little different. With a workforce that’s seen unbelievable change in the past 20 months amid growing financial and personal pressures, leaders are going to need a new set of tools to ensure employees are set up to excel.
Thankfully, those tools are at your fingertips. Technology like our AI-powered Coach Marlee app has made coaching accessible to all.
Our programs were designed by world-renown coaches, and sessions only take 5-15 minutes. Get started for free with personalized program now by chatting in the box below:
Our expert coaches have designed hyper-effective programs that will help
you overcome leadership challenges.
Coach Marlee (your amazing AI-powered personal coach) will analyse your unique traits and goals to let you know which program to start with (and if there are any you should skip)!
Your recommended programs include:
Inspire yourself and others to see the bigger picture! Increase your comfort and use of abstract and strategic thinking to make better decisions at work and in life. Big picture thinking is especially helpful for connecting dots, impactful communication, staying focused on key priorities and aligning teams with clarity and purpose.
Make better decisions by trusting the experience and genius within others. During this eight week program Coach Marlee will help you to develop a genuine appreciation for experimentation and data and a willingness to empower the opinions, feedback and insights from within your team and others in your life.
In this high impact eight week program Coach Marlee will help increase your comfort and confidence to make the difficult decisions of a great leader, navigate organizational politics and also help you inspire others at the top of your industry or field.
Develop ‘step back’ mastery for increased self-awareness and mindful decision making. Reflection and patience is core to consolidating learning, development, strategic decision making, recharging and living an authentic and meaningful life.
Close the gap between your great ideas and starting them. Energy and drive for making fast decisions is key to entrepreneurial leadership, seizing opportunities, making things happen, and leading out or in situations where you need to think on your feet.
Explore, strengthen and stand by what you believe in as a leader. Trust in your ‘gut feel’ and point of view is especially helpful for knowing what you believe in, making decisions you can stand behind and for living an authentic and meaningful life.
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