It’s perhaps an understatement to say that the past year has been a colossal challenge for businesses globally. Many industries such as aviation, hospitality, leisure and entertainment have ground to a halt, with devasting job losses despite the best endeavours of the furlough scheme in the UK.

The public now has a clear message that there is a path out of the Pandemic thanks to the rapid rollout of vaccines. But what if you are a leader of a company, large or small? How can you lead your workforce out of the unprecedented difficulties COVID has left in its wake, in a way that allows your team and your business model to thrive?

Looking at the following ideas will help you to pave the road back to normality.

Good leadership demands the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and your employees will look to you for streamlined and cohesive thinking to resolve difficulties. An unprecedented worldwide pandemic, however, has turned everything on its head.  Frequent and clear communication is now key, even if it’s to say, “I don’t have all the answers right now”. Your workforce will gain confidence in you if you trust them enough to share the unknowns that may lie ahead.  Psychological security within your team is vital to move your business forward.

A great example of this leadership skill is Jacinda Adern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister. She was honest, open and prepared to be decisive when the pandemic hit, despite not having all the information or a complete picture of the rapidly changing situation. She was then adaptable enough to make new decisions quickly as new facts came to light. Jacinda practiced maximum transparency, developing trust and compliance which helped to keep the impact of COVID low in New Zealand. Watch this video from Amy Edmondson describing this scenario as part of her TED talk on how to lead in a crisis.

Re-establish and re-assess working norms

When we eventually emerge from lockdown and return to offices instead of working from home, it’s clearly going to take time for employees time to develop normal routines again. It’s a perfect time to re-assess your resources, the most important of which is your workforce. Now is not the time to micro-manage staff. Instead, encourage them to focus on a common vision for your company.  Here are some ideas from Harvard Business School that will help you to think in more depth about this.

If you allow a certain amount of flexibility and creativity, your team will gain the confidence to display their own abilities, in turn increasing productivity.

When you’re resetting the norms, remember to nurture your own mental health. Your own norms will have changed, so it’s important to assess your own circumstances and make sure you’re not drowning yourself. This way you will be able to keep others afloat. Find out more from the Mental Health Foundation about finding and encouraging feelings of well-being and security.

Traditional values are crucial                                                  

This is an important thing to reinforce to your employees as we head out into the brave new world. According to PwC, a company close to my heart, your clients need consistent and regular reassurance of your values following months of pandemic chaos. Your job as a leader is to equip your team to keep the needs of the customer in full and unwavering focus. Your customers need to know that you are reliable, trustworthy, and sustainable in order for them to stay loyal to you in favour of your competitors. Now is also the time to make company policies, such as payment, delivery, and returns, more flexible to ensure you are being as accommodating as possible to meet employee and customer needs in such uncertain times.

Find out more about leading through change

Recognising change is inevitable, and the rate of change is increasing continually, which is why I have just completed my accreditation in AQai – an approach to measuring and improving adaptability in individuals, teams, and organisations. If you’d like to find out more about measuring and improving your own adaptability, please get in touch.

I’m setting aside part of my day to offer free mini Executive Coaching and Mentoring to people who would value some help in adopting new ways of working. Get in touch if you’d like to talk.