During COVID-19 and its aftermath, many leaders will have to take another look at how they define their responsibilities.
Organizational priorities may have shifted dramatically, from a readiness to launch major new initiatives to a need to hunker down and manage for survival. Or from a search for new talent to finding ways to maintain and support their current workforce. Entire industries may find they have to shift their resources into unexpected areas.
Adding to these potential changes are uncertainties over how long the crisis will last, how drastically it will impact individual businesses, and what the economy will look like when the pandemic subsides.
As in less turbulent times, leaders face the need to carefully allot their time between strategic concerns and tactical issues. During this period, however, they may need to radically shift their areas of concentration.
But there is also another question they need to be asking themselves: What is their role in this crisis?
Most leaders are good at identifying problems, and that’s partly why they are leaders. But during a crises more than ever, it’s essential that leaders get clear on how best to be part of the solution, and this often requires pivoting in their role. Without stepping on the toes of their superior, how can they be putting themselves forward to contribute in new ways? Likewise, if their skills are more suited to times of relative stability, can they swallow their pride and allow others to take on new responsibilities? For example, competencies related to flexibility, collaboration, and grit are more relevant during times of crises, while during calmer times they are simply part of a balanced suite of capabilities.
Regardless of how leaders re-define their roles, they will find needed support by recognizing that:
- Other leaders are also finding it an intense and difficult time
- They have already learned how to handle rapid change. It may be more drastic and extensive change than previously, but the skills and approaches they have used in the past will still serve them well.
A similar role re-definition may be required not only of business leaders but of a range of other individuals including coaches and other service professionals, workers at every level and in a variety of jobs, educators, parents, and anyone who has friends or relatives at risk. All have decisions to make.