It isn’t the first time the world faces a pandemic, nor will it be the last. Prior to COVID-19, the world has strongly and successfully evolved from pandemics like influenza, cholera, bubonic plague, and more. Though such contagions change the rules and world order, and even break the backbone of the strongest of the economies, it is the leaders who see past the smoked-windows and quickly adapt to the situation upskilling themselves to take on the bull by its horns. Such economies thrive and emerge successful, thus changing the world order.
All the leadership traits spoken and written are falling flat on its face. No business leader can escape this impact. Hence every one of them must rise to the occasion, mitigate the immediate damage while craft strategies that will lead their organization back to prosperity. In the future, COVID-19 will not be the only calamity that leaders will have to deal with. So leaders have to prepare themselves for a future where such disruptions will be the new norm.
The rule book is changing and the traits are being rewritten. The winning leaders must wear new capes. Here are some must-have traits that leaders of tomorrow must possess.
A Master of Data & Analysis
Data isn’t the new oil, but it is the most important oil that will drive the future growth of organizations. Productivity now demands more aggressive and actionable measures. Leaders should know how to swim across the sea of data and find meaningful conversations within these data points to make decisions. S/he should be strong enough to even go against the public opinion and make data-based decisions independent of any influence, fear or panic.
Data can even help leaders streamline their business functionality. How? Leveraging today’s improved dashboards, leaders can know which teams best add value to which department/process. But during such times when every rule is changing, how can companies define what a ‘best performance’ is? The answer is again ‘data’. With data, leaders can separate tasks that can be automated and let machines handle it, while make space and time for the employees to engage in more creative and research driven work.
Water-Tight Monetary Strategies
This pandemic brought in sudden economic shutdown, which sort of decimated cash flow thus slowing revenue. Hence any cash leakage in the current times will bite you like a stingray right where it should not. Thus leaders should look at streamlining cash flow to where it’s needed and not cut the oxygen supply to kill the business. Most importantly, when the dust settles, leaders should get obsessed with checking their cash positions almost frequently. They need to create a cash reservoir to sustain any such untoward circumstances so that business can sustain for six months to a year during any such future crisis.
Strengthening Digital Infrastructure
Just six months ago if someone would have said that the entire workforce of an organization will work from home, we would have laughed at him/her. Work from home, which was once a passing thought for many organizations, have become today’s reality. And when the companies were thrown at this situation all of a sudden, not all were prepared to tackle it. The one who couldn’t handle it are probably out of the game. We should comprehend that this pandemic may just be one of the many that’s yet to come and so it’s important to prepare for the future. Work from home is the new normal and hence companies should ensure proper & secure infrastructure for their employees – a water tight digital infrastructure.
In the past few months of employees working from home, many of them have used their personal network to connect to work and access important information/documents. This may have given free or easy passage to cyber hackers/attackers to enter the corporate network, and this is why around 82 percent of Indian organizations were hit by ransomware (Sophos). And with employees going back to work post Unlock 1.0, it is important for organizations to ensure the virus doesn’t enter their digital infrastructure. As Argha Bose, Head – Cyber Security and Risk Business, Tata Advanced Systems, said, “When coming back to secured environment from an unsecured one, no one knows what you are carrying in your devices. Hence cyber security experts need to device strategies to counter the threats and kill them sooner”. He advises to look at every device as a suspect and set up clear cut procedures of how people can re-enter the organization infrastructure.
Communication minus Grapevine
Remember, communication is the key to success! But we also know the damage grapevine communication can do to an organization’s present and future, especially when a large chunk of your employees work remotely. Hence crystal clear communication has always been the most complex challenge for any organization. A survey by Fortune/Adobe also seals the deal as it states that around 53 percent of the CIOs surveyed feel their biggest challenge in facilitating their companies’ remote work is to get their employees to effectively communicate with one another.
Clear, transparent communication becomes more important during these uncertain times, which creates positivity and increased connectivity among employees and management. But before communicating future plans, leaders should define their priorities and forward-moving strategies so that when communicated to their team, they know what the company holds for them and their future, and what it expects from them to do to put the company back on track.
Hence when writing the new leadership book, leaders across the organization needs to be agile, receptive of opinions, fast decision maker, clear in their communication, create strong financial inflows and be farsighted to plan accordingly. So are you ready to bite the bullet?