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Leadership During COVID-19: Building Resilience and Organizational Agility

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Leadership is a journey that never stops.  Afterall, a competent leader helps organizations evolve and adapt to challenges and thrive even in times of uncertainty. A leader can transform people’s lives, and they take it upon themselves to pursue goals and ideals that produce a better tomorrow.

Suffice to say, the global outbreak of COVID-19 has created significant challenges for leaders at all levels in sectors across the world.  But – with every challenge comes a powerful lesson.

2020 has been an epic test of character, and although nothing compares with the sacrifice of workers on the front lines, business leaders and CEOs have had to acclimate to extraordinary times and for them, the year has been an ultimate test.

If coping with a global shutdown wasn’t hard enough, leaders then had to figure out how to hit the restart button when the economy opened back up.  Through it all, CEOs were expected to remain calm and exude optimism, even if they were feeling stressed out about the situation themselves. As their teams looked to them for answers, these leaders, who had received no training on how to navigate a global pandemic, became the sounding board to many.

One of the ways leaders learned how to adapt to their role as the proverbial “captain of the ship” was by connecting more personally with their teams.  One CEO shared his insights from the lockdown noting, “Bonding with colleagues can help increase everyone’s individual resilience and grit.”

Another CEO said,  “During this pandemic, the cohesion of your team is absolutely critical.”  In fact, some executives said they learned to appreciate their teams in new ways—oftentimes making a point of starting every Zoom meeting with a note of appreciation for their team’s achievements.

Over the past few months, the coronavirus crisis has also revealed those CEOs who have been taking the intensity in stride.  Amid the chaos, they’ve remained grounded and have even looked for outside ways to lend a helping hand.

The managing director of HP, North America says there is something to be said about the positive effects of empathy during turbulent times. She writes, “In these divided times, engaging with our local communities is one way we can collectively use our time to improve circumstances after the crisis.”

Thomas Kane, Chicago executive, explains that giving back can mean a variety of things like collecting items for the food pantry, giving blood, supporting local restaurants or writing a letter to a fellow citizen in a nursing home.

“For leaders who need to unwind from the stress of navigating their organizations through COVID, what better way to recharge than by giving back? Altruistic actions may seem reactive to our current situation, but the motivation is definitely based on compassion,”  says Tom Kane.

Under normal circumstances, an altruistic leader takes the role of a mentor, providing motivation, emotional support, and role modeling to their team.  This kind of leadership is especially critical in the age of COVID 19, where the situation continues to rapidly evolve and often leaves team members looking for guidance.

Ultimately, people follow leaders they trust and believe in, leading to higher productivity and long-term development. Leaders don’t get paid for what they do but rather for the performance of their people. By putting people first, leaders can build resilience among their organization and  position themselves and their company for success.

Even during COVID-19.

Clare Louise

The author Clare Louise