Updated on 09/12/2020
Leadership, as a trait, is most likely to be even more demand in these trying times. That’s because small businesses need it to navigate some of the practical challenges posed by coronavirus this year.
This includes adapting to changing customer needs, more flexible and short-term planning, and an approach that constantly adapts to the latest government guidelines. With all of these changes happening, staff are likely to welcome the guidance, unity, and cohesion that a strong leader can bring to a team.
In order to highlight the value leadership can add to a business, this article will provide an overview of different leadership skills and approaches that you could adopt as we move into 2021.
A good business leader is someone who can:
While some people are naturally pre-disposed to take on leadership positions based on their personality types, others are excited by the idea of leading a team or project and look to develop that skillset artificially. Regardless of which of these categories you fit into, anyone can become a strong leader, and everyone has room for growth in this area. Perhaps the only essential attribute needed to start becoming a better leader is a willingness to identify and embrace your own weaknesses.
Before we look at exactly how to do this, let’s establish why leadership is particularly poignant in 2020 and as we look towards 2021.
Within the normal scope of business-as-usual activity you’d find in the workplace before coronavirus kicked in, leadership was useful and desirable. It helped people stay on track, maintain motivation, and know how to take steps forward. It could be argued, though, that where leadership was lacking, activity would still be able to continue based on the office norms.
An employee may already have known what was expected of them and would have been able to follow routine so long as they had been in their job a little while. Within 2020, though, that might no longer be the case. Office norms have been disrupted for many by the shift to working from home, while job roles have evolved and, sadly, many jobs have been lost.
What’s more, some businesses have had to pivot to re-evaluate and redesign their product/service offerings to cope with new customer demands. Amidst all the change and uncertainty that this brings, employees could find themselves feeling apprehensive about what the future holds.
That’s exactly why business leadership in 2020 and 2021 is more important than it has ever been. So, how can you become a better leader?
Here are some of our tips on business leadership skills and proficiencies that may be worth developing and why.
While you might not know which challenge is around the corner, you can improve your team’s ability to tackle that challenge by getting to know your team members properly, on a more personal level.
That means knowing them beyond the tasks and activities they’re set. What are their real strengths and weaknesses? What are they worried about? What motivates them? By investing time into speaking to your team members beyond surface-level office chat, you can use your understanding of their individual traits and perspectives to better unify them behind a common goal and prepare the business to cope with whatever challenges surface along the way.
The common stereotype of a leader might portray their main trait as confidence. Confidence alone, however, doesn’t make for effective leadership.
Instead, one major key to successful leadership is the ability to remain curious when you’re challenged. That means to not be dismissive if your colleague disagrees with your ideas; to be open-minded and receptive to new suggestions, and to avoid clinging too tightly to your ego or how you’re perceived.
Failure to do so could result in you unknowingly shutting down conversations and communications within your team, thereby potentially stunting innovation for the company. To illustrate this - you can probably tell which teams have good leaders by listening to how employees talk to each other when the boss isn’t around.
We don’t mean a new pair of glasses; we mean having a clear vision for how you can move the company forward through lockdown challenges may be essential for any business leader. Just because your team faces uncertainty doesn’t mean that there aren’t steps you can take to keep on track. Develop a methodology and framework for dealing with lockdown changes, and feed both the wider vision behind it and the specific actions you recommend to your team.
Having a clear sense of purpose and some actions to follow could make it easier for your employees to stay focused and calm under any circumstances. Without that bigger-picture guidance, though, teams could potentially falter.
For those who are more logical and less naturally attuned to people’s emotions, making an active effort to be empathetic this winter could be crucial.
It’s no secret that being locked down, working from home, and even isolating is having an impact on wellbeing across the country. In fact, Deloitte recently reported that although 55% of workers surveyed have said that their colleagues are just as, if not more productive now than before lockdown, 38% claim that their wellbeing have been negatively impacted. It’s therefore important to reach out to your employees to check-in with them and hear their thoughts.
If you’re able to help your team get into positive lifestyle patterns, you may notice repercussions of that positivity in their work - and this is especially important for smaller teams. The opposite of this is tunnel visioning too much on your business goals at the expense of fostering a positive team environment, so you may want to find a healthy balance that works for your company.
You could even get started on your Christmas party plans and have some fun.
The ability to act upon changing circumstances and seize new opportunities is likely to be a deciding factor in identifying which leaders can guide businesses to success in the coming months.
YouGov research indicates that only 46% of UK respondents identify as being ‘very comfortable’ or ‘relatively comfortable’ financially. With a whopping 54% of people fitting into less comfortable categories, businesses will need to improve their competitiveness and adapt to changing market needs quickly; seizing every advantage they can find - and this may only be possible with a good leader at the helm.