Effective leadership in the time of the pandemic

Enterprises require a new type of leadership to meet the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has been regularly hurling along the way.

1. Urgency is critical

The pandemic proved that those who reacted quickly and vigorously managed to overcome the crisis with minimum losses and showed great performance over the period. However, it is difficult to respond urgently to the crisis such as the one caused by the COVID-19. Typically, it is a wise approach to wait for more information and clarity to evaluate the situation more accurately and develop a better response. The pandemic did not allow for much free time to assess the problem and prepare for better action. In such an environment, acting with urgency was the most efficient strategy since each day of delay could make things even worse. Companies that quickly adapted to the lockdown and changing conditions managed to come out as winners. Similarly, the best results were achieved by countries that acted with urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Transparency in communication

During the crisis like the one the world experienced in 2020, and continues to do so in many countries even today, the toughest act was to adhere to transparency while communicating with key stakeholders. Effective leadership rests on the concept of transparency. This means that you need to be honest and sincere to achieve the strongest impact and the best feedback from all parties involved. Transparency ensures that all stakeholders have access to all information that is regularly updated. The transparent approach to communication means a leader provides honest and continuously updated information to key agents. However, it is not enough to give full and honest information. It is also important to include a bit of hope in your message to the audience. Therefore, an effective leadership is both transparent and optimistic.

3. Authoritative leadership

In addition to transparency, effective leadership in a crisis environment should also rely on authority. Authoritative leadership means that the leader has the ability to induce the team to do necessary changes to conduct effective crisis management. However, authoritative leadership does not mean tyranny or desperation. Effective leadership must rely on strict plans and guide the team according to a specific plan. In this case, leadership means that the leader takes full responsibility and has the courage of conviction to make the necessary changes.

4. Effective response to failures and mistakes

The COVID-19 pandemic and similar systemic failures are always associated with mistakes regardless of how effective the leader is. This means that the mistakes are inevitable. However, the leader's response to the mistakes is as critical as the initial actions. Moreover, sometimes the response to the issues can be even more important than the initial steps to cope with the crisis. The pandemic showed the deficiency of the defensive policies and blame shifting. The most effective leaders do not blame others but rather take full responsibility for what is going on in their team. In addition, leaders should focus on the root of the problem.  Responding to the causes help respond effectively and strategically to the issues. In addition, this will help keep the team motivated.

5. Flexible leadership and constant updating

It is often said that steadiness in leadership is crucial. This means that an effective leader must stay on the chosen course no matter what happens around. However, this can be catastrophic during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In this situation, the environment changes abruptly in a short period of time and the chosen strategy that was initially optimal can turn into a complete debacle. Therefore, effective leadership and crisis management should involve some flexibility. The leader must link decision making to  information from the environment and regularly update that information to the team. Furthermore, it is critical to constantly update the information to stay in focus. This will help stay on a flexible course of action thereby choosing the optimal strategy at each stage. This is like a game where the leader needs to take the best decision at each phase to get into the next round and continue the action.