As you would expect, the pandemic has been a catalyst to many changes within organisations.
Perhaps a very interesting discussion here is the shift of what is required from our leaders in a post-covid environment.
Whilst in the UK we are moving out of our final lockdown and on a path back to a level of normality; a key takeaway from the pandemic is that nothing is guaranteed, thus subject to constant change.
So, what does this mean for you if you are a leader in an organisation? What is your role in creating a level of stability in this volatile landscape?
From the conversations we have had with our clients, this role is pivotal to business success, now more than ever, but interestingly the pattern we have seen from our successful candidates are those who can dial up their softer skills which is critical to be able to lead through change.
Let us start with a useful framing - what do we mean by softer skills?
Our friends at Milkround define soft skills as: ‘Personality traits and interpersonal skills that characterise someone’s professional behaviour and how they relate to others – which are considered to complement “hard skills”, which refer to someone’s knowledge and concrete abilities’.
We liken this to thinking about ‘the how’ a leader can get the job done vs ‘the what’. We have seen whilst the types of soft skills required in our leadership roles have not changed, the extent to which they need to be dialled up has.
We touch on a few examples below:
This now goes further than the fundamental definition. There is a need for our leaders to dial into listening to their workforce & clients, be transparent in their communication and do so authentically & often. It’s OK not to have all the answers but being vulnerable & explicit about this to bring teams together is an effective communication strategy given a landscape of constant change. Critical in enabling you to take others along this journey with you.
Decision making coming from a place of genuine compassion is the way forward to good productivity. How can you factor well-being into the way you interact with your workforce & clients? Equally important is to recognise that one size does not fit all, so you will need to have a blended approach to this to create a sense of psychological safety to understand everyone’s needs.
Perhaps, the biggest theme we have seen in those we partner closely with are those who are able to adapt in the face of constant change, specifically those who proactively ‘bounce- back’ well from any scenario. Being entrepreneurial, experimental & agile in nature to constantly think outside the box, for example, setting failure criteria alongside success criteria.
Ultimately, this is a great time for leaders to commit to their personal development in these areas through great coaching conversations with practitioners, and for organisations to invest in these capabilities that are evidently necessary for the future. This resurgence of softer skills means organisations face a clear choice, to return to an enhanced version of normal or build a sustained version for the future with progressive leaders.