If ever there was a test of a leader’s ability to adapt to their circumstances, to prove their ability as a situational leader, then it is now.
I was working with a coachee earlier in the week. Yes, some work continues. I find them extremely impressive – my hypothesis has long been that they are more talented than they realise. It’s always nice when it’s that way around. Very successful and with greater success ahead of them. Of that I am sure.
It should come as no surprise that they wanted to focus the session on ‘leadership during (1) the lockdown and (2) the economic crisis’. We had already explored situational / adaptive leadership in a previous session and it has resonated. But now it really made sense.
And so our focus needed to be revisiting their previously defined leadership brand and to test it against the new circumstances. Disruption, distance management, markets falling, markets rising, personal and collective anxiety and so on. What we did not want to do was define a whole new set of leadership attributes.
Back to my most-used questions: “how do you want to to be around you?” and ‘what are the cultural conditions you wish to create in your business?” We revisited their definition of leadership and applied the attributes to our new world.
You want consistently to drive high-performance. Perfect. Never more relevant than now. What does that mean in April 2020? What will you do? What remains the same? What must change?
You want to be an inclusive leader. Great. No need to change that. But how do you do that when every person in your business is in lockdown at home? Which assumptions are you making? Is it harder for the person who lives on their own? Or for the person who is stuck in a building with people they don’t particularly like?
You want to be approachable and engaging. Brilliant. How does that work when people cannot simply “wander over to your desk”.
Whom are you including in your decision-making processes? It would be very easy for a bunker mentality to develop right now.
And so we continued through seven or eight facets of leadership. Each time: what does this mean now? Right now?
I know that they will experiment with the ideas we generated. I know that they will “go for it”.
There’s a lesson in there for me. Maybe for all of us. Don’t try to change everything. If your approach to leadership was the right one in the first place then why would you need to? But do adapt. Quickly.
Good luck and my best wishes