Many things have changed in our world post the pandemic. Many of us have been vaccinated, yet we are asked to wear masks, maintain social distance and avoid participating in large gatherings. We have learnt the hard way that a lot of tasks can be performed remotely and can deliver better results than what we achieved earlier working out of our workplaces traditionally. The air we breathe feels cleaner with fewer vehicles on the road and life seems better on the roads as the traffic in the cities is saner than what we encountered earlier. Finding a parking slot in commercial areas has become a bit easier; waiting time at the restaurants in the busy hours has kind of vanished in many places. Will this change when the scare of covid19 goes away?
Can we crystal gaze into the future?
It will be sad if we drop the gains we made during the pandemic and go back to the past. Rather we have to catapult the gains into the future. Organisations could tap into new cohorts of the talent pool because of the flexibility they allowed. We have to make them a part of the normal practice. Doctors, educators and many such specialists could offer their services over the phone and video calls. We have to take them in our stride and adapt fully rather than considering them as the next-best alternative. We shopped online, ordered food online, entertained ourselves online and played e-sports. Many of us continue doing those even if the traditional channels have opened up.
Given the volatile and uncertain times we have lived, it might not be safe to project the future with a high degree of certainty. Businesses have to surely be a lot more agile in adapting to the market trends and seizing upon the opportunities available for them. They have to realign their distribution strategy and supply chain practices in line with the changes in buying behaviours and preferences of their customers. Operational efficiencies would continue to be in focus so that the leaders can deliver the best results for all their stakeholders.
What changes do we need in Leadership practices?
Agility and resilience are emerging as the top two facets which will be remarkably more important than the previous order. Changes and disruptions are going to be normal.
An organisation may have to change its product portfolio, design approach, distribution methods, manufacturing strategy or after-sales engagements. Any of these involve large-scale changes in the organisation; these need to be conceived quickly and spearheaded by the leadership team so that the teams understand the rationale, own up the mission and take them forward.
While implementing the changes, many tactical decisions need to be taken; sometimes, these might involve decisions that involve strategic changes. Speed of decision-making is going to make a huge difference, going forward. Hence, one has to make sure that the organisation’s structure empowers the right people across its rank and file to make those decisions.
Marry humaneness with objectivity
The pandemic taught us the importance of collaboration, interdependence and wellness of the stakeholders of the business. None of these factors is new; however, the pandemic reminded us very rudely that leaders were not paying as much attention as these deserved. Many organisations were treating their human resources as elements or tools to be deployed and returns to be generated. People focus and practices were often running as a set of processes disconnected from the mainstream business leaders. It will be a great loss for an organisation to forget the lessons learnt the hard way by the industry in general and not apply that knowledge into day to day practice. Clearly, the leaders have to be a lot more humane, take a genuine interest in the people they work with and empathise with their team members for the situations they deal with.
At the same time, due to the advances in technology, people are working from multiple locations simultaneously exposing the applications, assets and data to greater risks. Organisations have to tighten the vulnerabilities that exist in their systems and processes and make themselves sustainable for the long run. Advances in technology allow us to use tools and methods to make lives better for our stakeholders, right from the employees and business partners to customers and everyone else. Dashboards and data analytics must be leveraged to drive decisions in an objective and agile manner.