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Three Leadership Change Trends for 2021

Posted February 2021

A number of people lately have been asking me what I think the trends in leadership and change are going forward, particularly considering the post and current pandemic environments. To answer this question, I feel whole-heartedly that many organisations have been in a survival mode and now need to transition to a thrive mode. I explain this is more detail in my previous article published last month (January 2021).

Based on that concept, I think there are a number of areas and changes leaders will need to really focus on ranging from real estate, to HR and IT processes and systems, to policies and procedures, to name just a few. But I think the most important areas leaders will need to really focus on if they want to make the transition to thrive mode are threefold:

1. Need to prioritise the mental and physical health of their team members

Prior to Covid-19, I would argue that the mental and physical health of team members was typically a tick box exercise – whether that was during the monthly ‘check in’ meetings or annual performance reviews. There was not a great deal of focus or sense of responsibility of leaders/managers on the mental or physical health of the team. The general school of thought, was that it was the individual’s responsibility to let us know if there was an issue. The conditions of national lockdowns and mandatory remote working has demonstrated that this is no longer the situation. The mental and physical health of a person greatly determines their level of productivity and so to help ensure all is in ‘the black’, i.e. a good place, this is a question and area that leaders and managers now need to focus on more and put greater attention to how our team members seem to be coping – are they more irritable, quick to frustration/anger, not showing up, or doing too much for too long?

2. Re-create a sense of community in a hybrid/remote working environment

One of the biggest challenges people have been facing during the pandemic is the feeling of isolation and loneliness. When we work for an organisation we should feel like part of a community and as leaders we need to make sure our team members do feel that. We need to have not only regular check-ins but also implement team socials which can be done on a virtual platform, like a quiz or escape room. Also need to work closely with HR to ensure staff continue to receive company swag, just like they would in the office – whether this is donuts on a Friday morning, or water bottles to promote a new campaign.

3. Re-define the organisational vision, or at the very least, the roadmap to achieving thevision

The changes we are currently facing in the workplace will have been taking place over the course of 7-10years, rather than now. As a result, our organisational visions may no longer be applicable for the current circumstances, or at the very least, not how they are achieved. As a result, leaders need to review their visions and ask themselves, “What kind of organisation do we want to be going forward – what do we want to achieve?” Once this question is really bottomed out, then need to adapt the vision/roadmap to achieve that. This will help move the current organisation from survival into thrive mode.

You will notice that these three areas really focus on the people elements of an organisation. This is because, as no surprise to anyone who has read any of my previous articles or posts, people are the mechanism of which change happens – they determine whether behaviours are adopted which will enable an organisation to thrive or die.

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