2020 forced us to pivot and adapt to some extreme VUCA conditions – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity around the pandemic, politics, weather, and now the vaccine, just to name a few! Many of us crafted solutions that allowed us to continue conducting business during these conditions, and solutions like remote work and video conferencing have now become much more refined and widely adopted. This is a small example of how VUCA events tend to provide a catalyst for innovation and progress. 2020 taught us all so much about our capacity and leadership styles, and I’ve identified a few lessons here that rose to the forefront and showed us better ways of leading teams and conducting work, even during the most challenging times.
Be clear-eyed on your priorities
2020 required a high level of agility from us all, as we had to learn on the fly how to get work done under conditions that changed by the day and month. Whether it was moving everything online or completely pivoting our business models, “making it work” taught us important lessons to carry over into the post-pandemic world. One of these lessons was the importance of setting priorities. If you can identify the most vital aspects of your mission, you can more easily direct resources to make sure THAT work gets done under unusual and difficult circumstances. And going forward, let’s all remember to not get too attached to our systems, work styles, agendas… even our offices. When the supports fall away, leaders who have a strong sense of their priorities and the ability to adapt to new conditions quickly will be able to get their teams and businesses back on track.
Development isn’t a luxury
You and your team probably had to rapidly develop new skills around communicating, managing up, and strategic planning in order to keep projects moving ahead in these volatile times. Challenge periods can be great for building new muscle and refining emerging leaders, but it isn’t the ideal time to suddenly prioritize training and coaching. That time is now. Have a development program in place to identify emerging leaders, close skill gaps, and train your people in what it takes to be successful in their position AND in the next role up the ladder. People development is a long-term business practice, and provides immeasurable benefits to your employees, who are being equipped to build their careers and become leaders within your organization. This especially comes in handy when VUCA events arise and people at all levels are asked to step up to the challenge.
Flexibility can produce better work
Even if your office has opened up and people are getting together in person again, think about officially implementing some of the pandemic practices that helped your employees maintain flexibility during such a volatile time. In particular, many organizations are recognizing the value of remote or hybrid work as an important tool for recruitment, retention, and improving the work/life balance of high-value employees. Being flexible with how, when and where work is conducted makes you stronger as a leader as well. It reinforces the truth that fundamental leadership principles don’t change just because you’re managing a remote team.
The challenges of the pandemic are not yet behind us, and new events that stretch our skills and our adaptability are happening every day. As we reflect on 2020, let’s consider the actions we took to keep work moving, people growing and morale high- and how we can continue these practices even as the business environment continues to acclimate and normalize moving forward.
Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to grow leaders, build teams and drive results through great people strategy. Contact us to get proactive about expanding your company’s potential, and stay up-to-date with our latest news and leadership development updates here.