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Companies transformed in months what should have taken them years. In order to survive the last 19 months of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity that we have experienced, organizations had to make crucial adjustments in their internal structure, their operations, systems, communication, strategies and in their team but, above all, radically transform your leadership.
In months, leaders had to change their mentality, modify traditional structures, make difficult decisions and adapt to the needs demanded by a health crisis: from one moment to another, companies had to close their operations and transfer their workforce to operate remotely .
Not all companies in the country were prepared to serve their clients remotely, only in 2020 in Mexico 1.4 million companies closed, but those that did allow their workers to operate from home saw the benefits they could have. According to information from Gallup and Global Workplace Analytics, companies had an increase of between 35 to 40% in their productivity; up to 40% fewer mistakes were made due to greater attention to detail; there was less absenteeism, which brought up to 21% more profitability for companies.
In this new environment, leadership must focus more on results, responsibility and freedom, rather than where and how your team does its work. I share with you some of the new skills that are needed for successful leadership:
1. Agility: less hierarchical structures
Strategic plans are important to achieving your vision, but they can’t be set in stone either. The pandemic was an unforeseen situation that took all companies in the world by surprise. Consequently, it is important to be ready to turn, change course quickly, and try to affect the entire organization as little as possible.
To have an agile company you must get rid of hierarchical structures and have multidisciplinary and autonomous teams that can operate without micromanagement. Rather than leading a group of people, management responsibilities should be distributed throughout the organization. Large teams are not as agile as a network of small teams that can be distributed and focused on new projects.
2. Foster strong and healthy human connections
People are inherently social creatures. It should come as no surprise then that we long to feel connected to the people we spend most of our time with. So how can we, as business leaders, help these connections occur between employees?
Gregg Lederman is a bestselling author focused on employee interaction. After a long investigation he discovered 3 things that people need at work to feel completely fulfilled:
- The Need for Recognition: People have a need to be recognized for the skill and perspective they bring and for the challenges they have accomplished.
- The need for respect: People want to be respected for who they are as individuals and professionals and how they contribute to the team.
- The need for relationships: People want satisfying relationships with the people they work with.
The leaders of the organization act as guides for the employees. Your role is to set the emotional tone of relationships and drive the strategic direction it will follow.
2. The best leaders play chess, not Chinese checkers.
When you see your team as a “game of checkers,” each piece is a uniform piece, so you view all the pieces the same way. When you view your team as a game of chess, you recognize that each piece has different strengths and weaknesses, so the way you strategize changes dramatically.
You must lead your team in a way that increases their strengths and, at the same time, encourages teamwork that compensates for the weakness of one person with the strength of another. The biggest lesson from all of this is that people don’t want their boss telling them what to do, they want to be recognized for their unique strengths and driven by a leader who knows how to optimize their performance so they can deliver better results.
3. Build a great and memorable culture
How is the day-to-day mood at the office? Is it a good place to be? Does your team treat each other well or is there gossip, complaints and arguments? How do you feel about your job? Where is your attention and focus? Does everyone feel like they are working toward something worthwhile?
Happy and productive workplaces don’t just happen. They are the direct result of the leader’s efforts to create a vision that motivates everyone, with goals that motivate and challenge his people. Your company culture is part of your legacy; If you allow it to be “default,” neither you nor your employees will be very comfortable with the results.
Businesses have changed and leadership must also do so to not be left behind in a world that demands and encourages digitization. Traditional structures with deeply rooted leaderships drag companies down and do not allow them to operate in the dynamics of the technological age.