Reimagining leadership in the age of disruption3 min read . Updated: 03 Nov 2020, 07:30 PM IST
The shift in the business world brought about by the unfamiliar order comes as an opportunity for leaders to fortify their leadership skills.
One of the biggest challenges for leaders, historically, has been the ability to predict change. The ones who were able to do so successfully thrived, while the ones who missed the bus perished.
The last few months have been one of the biggest challenges of our times. The core of our business ecosystems has been altered. As people and businesses alike adapt to the unfamiliar order, leaders need to change as well to help organisations innovate, stay relevant, and create value for their stakeholders.
Leaders need to rebuild the culture of their organisations in a way that the workforce stays motivated to deliver results and cater to the shift in customer demands. Forward-looking leaders must adopt a mindset of greater accountability towards all stakeholders – the workforce, customers, and the community as a whole.
Realising the full potential of technology
The last few years had put the focus on digital transformation. But, what was viewed as a medium to long-term necessity, became the need of the hour post COVID-19. Organisations were compelled to accelerate their digital transformation, formulating new processes and systems on priority.
For professionals, these shifts came with a silver lining – an opportunity to hone their leadership skills. A successful leader needs to strike the right balance in a landscape, where technology intersperses with customer and workforce demands.
Leaders need to tap the full potential of this digital disruption and create work environments where people and technology complement each other
The leaders of tomorrow need to understand how new-age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) can help in achieving business goals.
Many businesses are already using technology to automate mundane tasks, thereby improving the productivity of their people. With greater human-machine collaboration, people can focus on innovation and creativity while technology can take over repetitive tasks.
Adapting to changes in customer behaviour
As consumers embrace digital platforms, their needs and demands from organisations are also evolving. In the age of one-click processes, instant gratification is the order of the day and leaders need to stay ahead of the curve to offer customers an unparalleled experience.
As consumer behaviours evolve, trust will emerge as a key area of focus.
There has been a shift in the kind of products and services being consumed and the way in which the new consumer wants to be served. From sales becoming contactless and moving to online platforms to services like e-fitting rooms springing up, the change is clearly evident across industries.
At every point, leaders need to take account of the new customer reality and pivot experiences around it. The changes will be ongoing and building this assessment must become a core element of business plans going forward.
Focusing on empathy and employee welfare
Even on the workforce side, it is essential for leaders to hold regular briefings with their teams to apprise them of fact-based information. This goes a long way in reducing workplace anxiety.
Empathy is emerging as one of the strongest virtues for leaders in these challenging times.
While people find their own work-life balance, managing hybrid teams will require new skills and a change in mindset of the leadership. They need to ensure that teams stay motivated and geared to deliver the business results. Leaders need to come up with new ways to foster team building in an environment where colleagues are working remotely and have not met face to face for months.
Finding purpose through sustainability
The past few months have been filled with uncertainty. Several businesses found themselves on rocky roads and leaders had to be quick on their feet and make on-the-spot decisions.
Leaders across industries need to work towards a change of focus to overall sustainability by imbibing responsible business practices, right from waste management and water conservation to achieving net-zero emissions.
The impact of any organisation’s activities on the environment will be assessed with a magnifying glass and the virtues of responsible living and responsible businesses will benefit all.
Social responsibility is gaining precedence across business lines and it will be the responsibility of the leaders of the future to carve out a long-term vision that has a purpose. This vision should be a reflection of the values of the business, its stakeholders, and employees.
The new qualities of leadership will be required at all levels within the organization and not just at the top. Now is the time to chart out a roadmap that has the potential to upend existing models and create new ones.
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