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Responding To Covid-19 : How Resilient Leadership And Human-Centric Approach Can Help Companies Navigate Through This Crisis

With the disruptive change, like the one we face today, traditional leadership skills may not suffice. Covid-19 has forced us to do a lot of things differently.

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The coronavirus pandemic has been a litmus test of character and determination for millions of people around the world. The rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world has also quickly eclipsed other recent epidemics in both their size and scope. In addition to the deadly human toll and the disruption to people’s lives, the economic damage which the pandemic has caused on a worldwide scale is already significant and far-reaching.

For business leaders today, the ongoing crisis has accelerated an unprecedented change. More than ever before, the health of businesses is urgently and visibly linked with that of our workforces, society, and the planet. Previously unimaginable shifts in our daily lives are now compelling companies to adapt quickly and identify creative, unconventional ways to operate and survive. Worldwide uncertainty has made it even more difficult for leaders to find their footing. Amid such a scenario, business leaders not only have to cope up with extraordinary demands on both the professional and personal fronts, but are also required to play a crucial role in leading their organizations through the current Covid-19 crisis. In times of crisis, people look to leaders for reassurance.

With the disruptive change, like the one we face today, traditional leadership skills may not suffice. Covid-19 has forced us to do a lot of things differently. The question which most leaders are now facing, is: How do we move forward in such uniquely uncertain circumstances? How do we prepare ourselves to lead organizations in an increasingly VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world?

While we believe that things are going to get better soon and we will emerge stronger and better, it is time to reflect on the last few months of this pandemic and understand the key lessons we have learned from it. In order to chart a clear way forward for their organization, gain a foothold and respond effectively to the queries of both internal and external stakeholders, leaders are now required to act on the following imperatives–

Think differently and focus on clarifying your purpose

As we progress into the recovery phase of the crisis, the post-pandemic era will require leaders to recognize and reinforce critical shifts in the mind-set for their workforce. The first step that leaders should take towards the recovery of their organization is to rediscover or reemphasize their purpose. Many a time in moments of crisis such as now, the focus of the businesses is often to zero - in on their bottom-line fundamentals and metrics. However, as there have been numerous market and societal shifts caused by the Covid-19 crisis, many companies will now be looking forward to seizing this opportunity to grow and change their business models. Hence, instead of narrowing their focus during this hour, resilient leaders should consider pulling back and reminding themselves of their guiding principles to create something that leaves the difficulty far behind for a better future.

In order to do so, they must undertake several steps such as –

Situational shift– The success of leaders lies in how well they have been building themselves to take on any opportunity. Even though this may be described as a challenging time for businesses, but it is nevertheless an opportunity that leaders should embrace to rise above and beyond to create a better future for their organizations. Sometimes, situations like Covid-19 gives new ideas to work with and innovation is born out of this to fuel growth story. Therefore, resilient leaders should use the current scenario to find out opportunities amid difficult constraints. They should ensure innovative utilization of the workforce to drive their organization towards stability.

Planning shift- From short-term contingency planning to mid- and long-term economic and scenario planning, leaders must analyze the related impact of the pre and post Covid-19 crisis on their operations, employees, financing, and so forth. It is critical for leaders to model the alignment of financial resources to the cash required to ramp-up their operations in the post covid era.Businesses with a “business as usual” approach after COVID-19 may not last long. A business continuity plan is most essential and has to be framed for the near future. The new ways of working will see greater collaboration with technology, remote working, social distancing, new models of hygiene, and adaptability.

Taking a people-centric approach and being sensitive to employee needs

This is the time to step up and provide more support for your family & employees with the sole focus on helping them get through the crises and this gesture will pay big dividends for you in the future. While re-opening the workspaces, leaders must take into account the mental and physical well-being of their employees. During such trying times, it is the natural responsibility of leaders to be kind and considerate to their workforce and focus should be on adopting measures to create a positive and healthy ecosystem where employees can thrive in. Acknowledging and addressing these issues can help companies in building resilience.

Adopting a Tech Savvy approach

Technology is a great partner to walk with a lifetime. Today, there is a need to advance the use of technology in every phase of business. Now, automation & cutting edge technologies should be looked at not as a cost-saving tool alone but more as a means of business resilience as Covid-19 crisis has taught us how it can play a crucial role in keeping our society functional.

Preparing for the future

Over the next few years, businesses will continue to see massive change.Today’s business leaders must ensure they are devising and implementing strategies that provide the business agility needed to meet the challenges that can come from any unforeseen hurdles in future. With effective tools and practices in place, businesses can not only overcome many of the issues but can also enhance productivity to become truly business agile and succeed in a post-Covid world.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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leadership COVID-19 Human-Centric Approach

Manas Mehrotra

The author is Chairman, 315Work Avenue

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