No one has ever said that leadership was easy and no one could have predicted the challenges that COVID-19 would have brought. What skills will business owners and leaders need to equip themselves to meet the challenges of the modern business world as we move out of the pandemic and re-engage with our teams and colleagues again?
With the help of Lloyd Wigglesworth from The Alexander Partnership who penned a brilliant whitepaper on this subject in 2020, we take you on a whistle-stop tour through some leadership tips to help you survive the year ahead.
20 leadership tips for 2021:
- You are in a goldfish bowl, permanently on display and people will take note of how you do things – get used to this level of scrutiny. Establish what you stand for. Whatever cultural statements are written on the walls; your colleagues will take their lead from the way they see you behave.
- Spend time understanding the expectations of your different stakeholders. Plan time with key customers, suppliers, shareholders, external advisors and media. Recognise who the priorities are.
- If you are new to your leadership seat, set and manage expectations early. The initial twelve-month window is key to demonstrating change.
- You are defined by the people you promote and hire – appoint people based on their competency and cultural values and don’t hold off on making difficult people decisions. Surround yourself with energy givers and remove the energy sappers.
- Take an active part in technology change. Learn how it works and embrace it. Use all available technology for your communication.
- The ability to articulate vision and clear strategies is fundamental. Speak to people in your team and organisation regularly and check who understands it and who doesn’t, then recommunicate.
- Celebrate the short-term milestones and wins. Chunk out projects to mark success.
- Build a network of peers. Continue looking outwards. It will give perspective and ensure you don’t miss the obvious things that other people are doing.
- If you are CEO, make building a relationship with the chair a priority. Create an environment where the board is an asset, rather than a hurdle.
- You don’t have to know everything. Employ people who are good at the things you are not so accomplished at. Trust your instincts. You won’t always have the answer.
- Be candid about the future and realistically positive. If you don’t believe in your strategy, or the one you inherit, change it.
- Embrace diversity. If you are CEO, don’t fall into the trap of filling all the Exco slots with people who think like you do. You will need to encourage and support challenge, to avoid group thinking.
- In many organisations even the smallest incremental improvements will make a difference. Aim to set a culture where this is encouraged.
- Own your mistakes and allow others to feel confident enough to own theirs. They are often the best learning opportunities.
- Establish a means of getting objective feedback. Employ a coach who will hold you to account on your commitments.
- Imposter syndrome is a strength not a weakness. Seek regular feedback from your team on how you are viewed. Have regular 360s.
- Only the paranoid survive! You can’t afford to be complacent, listen and understand the whys.
- Manage your time ruthlessly. Prioritise what will have the biggest impact. Leave space for reflection and for crises. Lead by example.
- Do not compromise on your direct support team. Ensure they are a reflection of you – delegate.
- Develop good life habits. The most successful leaders have both physical and mental fitness. Take time to switch off and regain perspective.
Harriet Lavender & Jane Middleton