Remember what it was like to be a business leader before our global pandemic?
You knew the purpose of your company. You had focus and clarity of vision, and a good sense of direction. You built businesses, understood how to be flexible but firm, and thought you had seen it all. You insisted on accountability and understood that great products take time, so you were willing to move at the pace of excellence, no matter how slow or fast, to ensure things were done right. And you were not afraid of hard work. Guided by integrity and great ethics, you insisted on doing what was right always, even under immensely challenging circumstances.
Communication was paramount. You took extra time to communicate strategic priorities and goals to stakeholders, shareholders, employees, customers, and partners, ensuring everyone understood what direction you were heading. Of course, you were wise enough to know that you sometimes had blind spots, and had the humility to seek guidance. Never did you believe in hype. You had an ear for authenticity, and you knew when to be bullish and when to be bearish.
People were paramount. Your teams gave your tenure tenacity. You invested in people, nurtured their talent, and created motivated high performers who knew how to listen, drop their egos, and collaborate, rowing as one toward a common goal. You inspired your teams to explore outside their comfort zone, grow exponentially, and encourage one another to level up. And you not only championed ideas, but celebrated their execution. The culture of innovation you created by putting people first ensured that you delivered on your product experience, and that your products and brand were aligned.
THEN, the UNTHINKABLE happened. COVID-19 shook nations, industries and institutions to their core. Life and work as we once knew them were abruptly altered with excruciating thoroughness. We’ve watched businesses and industries collapse globally under this viral assault to our personal and public sectors. And leaders are scrambling to assess, to salvage, and to soldier on. Now, more than ever, leaders are expected and MUST deliver, navigating under extreme pressure and unpredictability. Leadership under COVID requires all the skills of the pre-pandemic world, but at an exponential level and with some essential additions: