Covid-19 has transformed life as we know it, impacting everyone personally and professionally. As we begin adjusting to a new normal, leaders must not forget the skills they honed to get through the crisis.
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Covid-19 has transformed life as we know it, impacting everyone personally and professionally. As we begin adjusting to a new normal, leaders must not forget the skills they honed to get through the crisis. Instead, leaders must use this time as an opportunity to adapt and grow and lean even harder into three critical leadership skills that got many through the pandemic’s trials and tribulations: empathy, agility and data-driven decision making.
Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Over the past 18 months, strong leaders worldwide became more emotionally attuned to their employees’ challenges inside and outside of the office. Nearly every business meeting began by asking how individuals were coping. Leaders forged new bonds with their employees and developed closer relationships with their teams by lending a sympathetic ear.
Empathetic leaders develop deeper relationships with their employees and help foster a psychologically safe atmosphere where all employees can perform at their best. Not only will empathy lead to deeper connections across teams, but it will also aid in creating better understanding and collaboration among team members regardless of gender, culture, personality and age. Teams will ultimately become more productive when there is a shared sense of mutual understanding.
Empathy also fuels much-needed innovation within an organization. It produces the kinds of connections and trusted relationships that encourage individuals to experiment and take risks.
The pandemic forced many leaders to quickly adjust their strategy and business model and consider more external factors than ever before. It tested resiliency, and we saw some companies buckle under the weight of the crisis while others seemed to advance their positions.
All organizations had to think fast and act quickly to keep up with the pandemic and its increasing impact on business. I saw this firsthand with my company’s customers. One ventilator manufacturer completely re-instrumented its supply chain to meet the massive surge in demand. The company successfully scaled production from six units per day of a single ventilator line to a staggering 600.
While the worst of the crisis is hopefully behind us, disruption and change will likely never subside. Leaders must continue to embrace and nurture their organization’s ability to adapt and execute at the highest level even when there isn’t an existing playbook to follow.
3. Data-driven decision making
If Covid taught us anything, it’s that the greatest weapon against uncertainty is information. Data is why digital adoption took a quantum leap forward during the crisis, with companies readjusting business priorities to accelerate digitalization from taking years to a matter of weeks.
Consider the case of Estee Lauder, the American multinational manufacturer and marketer of beauty products. Before the pandemic, 80% of the company’s multibillion-dollar-a-year revenue came from physical stores. In response to the crisis, Estee Lauder was able to fast-track digital transformation plans already in the works and transition from a leader in retail to a sophisticated online firm able to deliver highly personalized customer experiences.
According to Mckinsey Global Institute, data-driven organizations are not only 23 times more likely to acquire customers, but they’re also six times as likely to retain customers and 19 times more likely to be profitable. This is because data makes it possible for enterprises to make more informed decisions and improve the customer experience. The result? Satisfied customers who keep coming back for more.
But how exactly does a company become data-driven? As with almost any major business initiative, becoming data-driven requires a mix of people, processes and technology. Still, an essential factor in becoming data-driven is exemplary leadership to create a culture that places data at the organization’s heart.
As more populations get vaccinated and communities can open safely, there will be new challenges and uncertainties. However, true leaders will reflect on what they have learned and accomplished over the past year and a half and continue to approach each new challenge with empathy, agility and data-driven decision making to come out as a stronger organization than ever before.