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Covid-19, the acid test for leadership

What is so different now …?

Covid-19, the acid test for leadership and the push for digital up-skilling. Still it is about human relations! People first, technology second!

Of course, Covid-19 is in all our minds. An incredible amount of wonderful posts and articles of people, who advise how leaders should behave these times, appear in all kind of media.

I am wondering where all these people suddenly got their insights from! We are living through a crisis which is unprecedented, and they tell us: Here is what you got to do! Experience is very relevant, but it’s definitely not all!

Believe or not, the current situation is an acid test in big and small corporations, societies, networks etc. We will see some good leaders emerge and others fail.

What I dare to say is: Those who built relations to people are more likely to succeed because they have followers and don’t need to get into a command and control mode. This is nothing new, but many leaders did not invest into relations or even considered them irrelevant for making profits.

What is new for many people in the current situation is technology. Fortunately, we have so many digital means available. While 30 years ago companies normally had advanced technical equipment, nowadays laptops, mobile phones and tablets we use for our private purposes are better. Now is the time to start fully utilizing them! This is new! We are experiencing a substantial increase in digital skills throughout the whole population. Being obliged to work from home forces us to think differently, change processes and approaches and develop a digital mindset.

Getting connected virtually is great. My 86 years old aunt surprised me with her first video call, which she initiated without any help from others. Having a joint dinner with friends via ZOOM was another interesting experience. These connections worked well, because there was an existing relationship. Don’t mistake a digital connection for a human relation! Shifting from private to professional life, the principle is the same, it's human relations. The better my relations to my team members are, the easier it is to co-operate remotely and virtually. Trust and understanding are key ingredients to that and have to be built up and continuously nurtured. People first, technology second! Leaders who followed that principle in normal times, benefit a lot in crisis times.

Technology and data in connection with the audiences we are dealing with now, have changed the playground for leaders substantially. This is actually not new; however, it becomes much more evident and visible now! Many leaders feel they have been pushed into the digital age in a crisis situation. This might be true, but it also can be an opportunity to leave behind controlled decisions, encourage creative ideas and start experimenting. An excellent guide for starting you can find with Adapt2Digital’s Virtual Leadership Playbook.

The Covid-19 virus will hopefully be confined soon, and we will be able to get back to a more normal life. There will be a huge amount of learnings we can and should take from this and I believe they will be around Humanity (old) and Technology (new).

– Published on LinkedIn on May 25th, 2020


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