A lot of emphasis is laid on personal rapport and personal connection when it comes to being considered as a successful leader. Not a cakewalk even during normal times but it is a definite challenge these days when we are working remotely. So what do we do? How do we remain enthused and inspire others?
For starters, personal connect is only a part of leadership.
Leadership quotient is determined by the Strategic, Operational, and People management capability of a person. Dr Michael Edwards also terms these as Intellectual (I), Operational (X), and Emotional (E) quotient. To put it in simple terms, leadership revolves around this triangle, which is rarely an equilateral one. Strategic leadership mainly focuses on “what” to do in the long and short term. Operational leadership is about the “how” part while people management is about the “who” part of it.
Managing or rather living with all this intentionally or unintentionally in normal times has become our second nature. But, how do we re-invent our leadership quotient during COVID times?
1. Strategic Leadership: More than ever, strategic leadership is being put to test. Those declared or indicative decisions that you will take about your function or the organisation’s current and future will define your leadership in the subconscious minds of the people. They are watching you with an already troubled mind. Your, not so humane, single decision about one person may have a significant negative impact on the morale of the rest. Remember, there are no water cooler chats, no grapevine to help them vent and cope up.
Focus on this aspect of leadership during COVID times to keep the morale of employees up. Now is the time to inspire people with your decisions that will build trust and faith forever. This might be the single biggest strategic impact that you will make in your career. Pause and list down all decisions that you took during these days. Did you inspire your folks?
2. Operational Leadership: Although it is important to keep our cash flow alive, the reality on the ground is that operational leadership has taken a hit. This is true even for those workplaces which had the “work from home” option fully functional and meeting the highest global standards. Since operational leadership in these days can operate only at some level, we have the luxury to go slow on this. However, innovative ideas should be welcomed and practised to embed them in your team’s psyche even if they don’t necessarily come from the leader. Did you try something different and unique? Did you reject or opt for innovation? This will help the team to feel happy and enthused about something that they hadn’t done before. Ownership would be an all-time high.
3. People Management: Last but not the least, this aspect of leadership will be put to the hardest test. Some people have a natural knack. They can flow with the tide. If you are not that lucky and don’t know what to do to build a human connection? Ask, ask, and ask? Ask those who you trust have no self-interest in your success or even better ask those who you are going to cater to. Remember implementing brilliant ideas, even if they are not your own, makes you a more likeable leader. That itself will help you build a stronger connection with people. When they see an idea that came from them being implemented, you don’t have to worry about its success. They will ensure their success! Assess yourself, did you have better people connect before or now? If your people management is not better than the pre-COVID times, you have a lot to catch up with.
A quick exercise!
Close your eyes and run through your leadership triangle before and after COVID. On a scale of 10, rate each component of Strategy, Operation and People, first before COVID and next during COVID. How do you fare?
If you are happy, be assured people are happy too!