Leadership in the “next normal”

Photo of Scrabble letters spelling out FOUNDATIONThere’s a lot going around these days about how we need all these new leadership skills for the post-pandemic workplace. You know, the hybrid remote / in-office scenarios, not to mention how employees are requesting (demanding, even) that their employers take a stand on sustainability, diversity, climate change, and social justice.

All this requires leaders to learn new skills to deal with it – right?

Wrong. We don’t need new leadership skills.

We need renewed focus on the foundational elements of leadership: communication, strategic thinking, willingness to learn, communication, professional empathy, clarity of direction, open-mindedness, and did I mention communication?

I posed the question on LinkedIn: 

Agree or disagree:¬†Leaders need new skills to succeed in today’s – and tomorrow’s – environment.

Some people tentatively agreed. Some didn’t. And then there was this, from Jeff Toister, whom – I admit – I often agree with (and I guess in this instance, I can say he agrees with me!).

Whenever I see a leader struggling (and I see a lot), it almost always comes down to the same core skills.

Sure, some new skills might be needed on the fringes (i.e. managing remote vs onsite teams), but the *basics* stay the same.

A leader is someone who has followers. So can you:

  • Articulate a clear and compelling vision of what needs to be done or accomplished?
  • Get people to understand and buy-in to that vision?
  • Help people give their best performance in pursuit of that vision?

Observe a struggling leader. You’ll often see:

  • A lack of clarity about what needs to be done.
  • Confused employees.
  • Employees who know what needs to be done, but don’t have the tools, resources, procedures, or authority to do it.

Thanks for writing my blog post for me, Jeff!

In all seriousness, though, the basics of leadership are basics for a reason: they’re applicable across the board, in whatever situation a leader may find themselves. They’re foundational, because the structure of “how I lead” rests on them. They’re adaptable to whatever the situation may be, and whoever the person is; we each lead in our own individual way, with our own distinct style.

A leader’s ability to master the basic, foundational leadership skills, adapt them to their own personality without losing track of them, and not lose sight of them even under duress – that’s the leadership we need at any time, though perhaps more so today than ever.

And as Jeff mentioned in a subsequent comment, those looking for “advanced” or “new” leadership skills are often seeking a quick fix for an underlying lack of basics.

Jeff is a top-notch keynote speaker, author, and trainer on the subject of customer service – and what he discusses is applicable in more areas than “just” cusotmer service. His website is here: https://www.toistersolutions.com/

The basics of leadership aren’t hard, but they DO – and I mean DO – need to be taught. Eight modules, with a final exam to prove your mastery (and impress your boss): the Empowered Leadership program.

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