What will leadership look like in a new lockdown in a New Year?

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Four key roles for every leader in 2021.

Let’s start by stating the obvious.  For many business leaders and owners 2020 was not an easy year. Leadership in a lockdown is hard. The pandemic has caused significant disruption to business operations, sales and their staff.  That’s not even including any doubt and disruption that finally leaving the EU may have caused too. 

2021 started with an air of optimism to it – a vaccine and some certainty about the relationship with the EU.  However, that quickly disappeared again for some last night when a third national lockdown was announced.

These doubts, these disruptions, have a way of affecting not only the external aspects of your business, your customers, your sales, your suppliers, but they also can have a negative affect on your staff.  Internal leadership will therefore be as important, if not more important, in the first quarter of 2021 than external leadership.

Business leaders, like you, must be prepared to support their teams and their staff’s needs through these ever changing and disruptive times.

  • Motivation
    • 2020 was a bruising year.  Change and uncertainty are not good motivating factors for many employees.  Working from home worked for some but for those in isolation it often didn’t work.  Your main job as a leader in 2021 is to be their cheerleader.  Help them to build their own resilience, whilst not neglecting your own.  Motivating your staff is more than just a 5 minute stand up every day.  Spend some time with each of them and try and identify what each individual is concerned about and what motivates each individual.  The most important thing to remember here is that one size DOES NOT fit all.
  • Flexibility
    • This is very much the same as the first lockdown and the subsequent months.  Leaders will need to continue to provide flexibility in their approach with their staff, particularly in areas of performance.  The first lockdown created all sorts of concerns for parents balancing home schooling and work commitments.  Much will be the same again for 2021.  Good leaders will therefore appreciate their employees efforts and understand any mitigating issues around performance.  Great leaders will offer their employees the chance to work when they can – perhaps its evenings when the kids are in bed, or mornings when the kids are undertaking virtual classroom activity. 
  • Clarity
    • Probably the most important word in leadership but certainly the most difficult in these uncertain times.  Try and offer as much clarity as possible to your employees.  Clarity in terms of long term and short term direction, clarity with respect to delegation and any delegated tasks, and clarity with the situation and the circumstances the business is in.
  • Direction
    • Linked to clarity it is your role as a leader to define the direction for the year ahead.  Whilst this might be trying to look at a crystal ball in the dark, your business needs direction, your staff need direction and you need direction.  Think about the one most important thing that you need to achieve this year – a specific turnover figure, raising a next round of funding, completing product development, and aim everyone’s efforts at that one most important achievement.

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