COVID19 has been a rude awakening. Never before has a disruption of such magnitude occurred and in such a short period of time. As the government relaxes the lock down and organisations open up for business over the next few weeks, leaders will need to tackle challenges on multiple fronts…

  1. People challenge: As employees are asked to return to work, they will be risking undue (and maybe even fatal) exposure to the virus. The first and foremost responsibility of the leader will be to ensure a safe workplace. One needs to be thinking about new workplace norms – hygiene compliance, social distancing and maybe even testing of colleagues and customers. Then, there is, the responsibility of ensuring minimum job losses and providing a sense of safety to all employees.
  2. Strategy challenge: The disruption we are seeing today is probably the first of a few we’ll see in the coming months. Even if it not, one needs to prepare that way. Some have responded rapidly either to leverage the opportunity or ensure minimum impact to business. So far, these have been dictated by government policy and category/industry they are in, more than anything else.  The few days/weeks, everyone is back in the workplace will be that one chance the leader will have… to put all ideas and learning from the lock down on table, align and prep the business for potential future waves.
  3. Business challenge: “The only business of business is business.” Many companies have seen steep revenue drops. Great leadership will be about delivering business commitments by capturing new opportunities, challenging assumptions, looking beyond the obvious and transforming the organisation from being reactive to being proactive.

Above and beyond all this, is the need to communicate openly, often and clearly. Providing clear direction while empowering employees to organize their own time and work will give a better sense of responsibility and even belonging in these tough times.

As the lock down ends, I look forward to seeing some great leader emerging.