Leadership In The Time Of Covid

The following blog has been contributed by Sanjeev Pathak – Head, CMIT Business India Market ( India, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka). A passionate leader with over two decades of experience, he has dedicated his life to creating a sustainable impact on business growth and empowering his team to grow through innovation and collaboration skills. 

With a journey rooted in intelligence, caliber, and unbeatable experience – he is a man who practices what he preaches. Read on to discover his take on the changing face of leadership in a pandemic prone world.

Leadership has always been an evolving field and seen many versions in the history of human evolution. On the one hand, the leaders have created many new opportunities, and on the other hand, leaders have also managed many humanitarian crises in past. 

Any crisis represents a danger as well as an opportunity. The Covid crisis has provided an immense learning opportunity for us as individuals, as communities, as organisations to revisit our purpose, and to redefine our responsibility towards business, people, society and sustainability. 

Covid has significantly impacted our work, our working style, our interaction with people and work-life balance. People expect leaders to show the path of hope and future opportunities in a crisis. During this pandemic situation, the leaders may find it challenging to manage the crisis associated with economic losses, job losses and people losses. Therefore, it is vital to understand the various leadership attributes that can help in managing a crisis. 

Leadership in the current context

We often use leadership in the context of an organisation; however, leadership always had four facets. These four facets are driven by four human life responsibilities, taking care of self, taking care of work, taking care of family and taking care of society. Each of these facets can be explained by different leadership attributes. Leaders may allocate different priority to each one of these facets. However, to have effective leadership, the right amount of attention is required in each of these facets. 

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Leadership at the self-level

The leadership attributes e, g. Being self-aware, Courage, Honesty, Time-management, Commitment, Kindness, Humility, Resilience can explain the leadership at self-level. These attributes are self-explanatory; however, the right awareness and demonstration of these attributes can help leaders manage themselves more effectively. 

The work done by doctors and medical staff in treating Covid patients is an example of exemplary courage and excellent leadership at self-level. The great leaders have demonstrated self-leadership attributes like kindness and self-awareness more often. The leadership at self-level is the key for the other three facets. 

Leadership at the work level

This pandemic has impacted many organisations. Employees are working from home. This change in the work environment has also impacted the leadership. The leadership at work level can be demonstrated by attributes like Accountability, Motivation, Talent Development, Collaboration, Empowerment, Encouragement, Communication, Feeling of importance. Leaders used to get ample opportunities to engage employees face-to-face before the pandemic.  Leaders now face difficulties in engaging employees.

On the one hand, it isn’t easy to engage employees; on the other hand, the need for employee engagement has also increased. The leadership attributes like collaboration, motivation, encouragement and engagement has become more important during these days. Post pandemic the virtual environment has meant, employee engagement with the organization has come down. Therefore, attributes like empathy and communication may help leaders in engaging employees. 

Leadership at the family level

The attributes like trust, empathy, anger management, selflessness can explain the leadership at the family level. In these times, the leadership at the family level has become as crucial as leadership at the work level. Families have become an integral part of your office space. There is a fragile boundary between family time and office time. Managing the family within office time or manging work within the family time have both been big challenges. Therefore, the attribute of Time management has become key in the current context.

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Furthermore, the leader must think about her family time and her team’s family time. The scope of employee engagement needs to be extended to the employee’s family engagement. To make the family an integral part of the organisation is an example of leadership at the family level.

Leadership at the society level

Leaders play a critical role in managing people, work, life, and society. In the time of crisis, the social contribution becomes more important. The leaders may use attributes like influence, power, culture understanding, and networking, which can help them be more effective. 

This facet of leadership has been discussed least in the past; however, this facet of leadership is as essential as the other three facets. Leaders can encourage their teams to participate in social meetings, volunteering and CSR activities to have outstanding leadership at the society level. 

In conclusion, when it comes to leadership there is no silver bullet. The best leaders always adapt their leadership styles to match their context. This is what makes a good leader, a great leader.

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