Leadership in Uncertain Times – Credibility, Flexibility and Going Remote
As the leader of a company, or a part of a company, the onus of ensuring that things keep running smoothly even during difficult, unprecedented times falls on you. You have in your hands the livelihoods of the people who work under you as well as the future of the company. This makes it inevitable for you to face situations in your professional life where you will have to make very hard decisions. The question then is, how should one lead? What should a leader do? And what does remote leadership look like?
One of the major challenges you can expect to face is that of developing and maintaining credibility of what you do as a leader. This is something that new leaders have to build from scratch when they take a new leadership role or join a new company. This does not preclude the experienced ones from being tested either.
2020 put all leaders, new and experienced ones alike, into a dilemma that none of them had faced before. Indeed it ended up cornering leaders into a rather vulnerable spot. Remote leadership becomes even trickier and brings with it a set of completely new dynamics.
Overcoming this, or rather dealing with it, is a game of a few well thought out, judicious decision-making. Leaders should take on challenging times by thoroughly studying the companies they are responsible for and gain an idea of factors that lead to success and those that don’t. Draw on these inferences and implement flexible decisions. You should be able to back your ideas up with valid reasonings that everyone in your company can understand.
If there is one takeaway you should choose from this article, it is this one. 2020 taught us that no amount of certainty is ever guaranteed. Being rigid in your business leadership practices is a one-way ticket to stagnation. You do not progress or grow.
Your decisions should incorporate the inputs of all those who work under you. You never know that the next best idea that propels the company into success can come from an intern. Gone are the days when the strict white collar, blue collar distinction concentrated decision-making power to the few people up at the top of the hierarchy.
Your policies should be malleable enough to be changed according to the needs and demands of your company and the business community and environment it is a part of.
Perhaps this is where remote leadership becomes a little easier. Exchanging ideas is quicker, changing work flow is relatively hassle-free. One has more immediate access to what is going on in the company and where changes are needed.
The aforementioned two points lead to this one. A leader cannot expect to concoct any sort of credibility or inject flexibility into their company culture if they do not engage in effective and meaningful communication with every stakeholder.
Every leader will know their own company and thus be able to better decide how best to relay important information to their teams, senior management, investors and even customers. Because of growing understanding of company culture and critique of modern day work-life, it is no longer enough to just ‘listen’. Words need to be backed up by appropriate actions that reflect a good balance of company interests and employee interests.
However, this does not mean that you completely abandon your own personal leadership style and rules. Bring new and innovative practices with you. Be different from your predecessors. Openly express what your expectations are from everyone. Just make sure that they know. Don’t let everything be a surprise to your organization – you do not want unnecessary barriers between you and everyone else.
Remote Leadership = Digital Leadership
Don’t hesitate to go digital! Digital communication is perfectly normalized now. People will appreciate if you keep interactive sessions on Zoom (or your app of choice) to communicate with different teams in your organization. Create a healthy mix of scheduled and unplanned, informal meetings however you see fit.