Adjusting for Uncertainty: Rethinking Leadership as New Expectations Redefine a Post-Pandemic World

By: Jennifer-Catharina Jaeger, Business Consultant

The global pandemic and ensuing economic uncertainty have forever reshaped the way the world works – from paused projects to newly virtual teams.

With nearly half of the employees working from home during the pandemic in Europe and in the US, the new reality demands a new age of leadership. Project leaders must look beyond today’s challenges to embrace potential opportunities while also tending to team members whose lives have been turned upside down. The pandemic has not only disrupted work lives, but also personal lives. With this, project leadership in the post-COVID world will require more than tremendous strength of mind in difficult times; also demonstrating resourcefulness, flexibility, and open, transparent communication will be critical. There are no guarantees for the future and no realistic outlook about the new professional environment after COVID-19, except that it will be completely different. While there may be no guarantees, there are smart strategies project professionals can follow to help futureproof their careers – and their organizational portfolio.

Here are four ways to step up in an uncertain future.

  1. Embrace Empathy
    • Leaders must show empathy and flexibility to keep teams engaged and motivated. Technical skills need to be augmented by highly evolved communication skills and a strong sense of connection to keep projects on track.
    • Additionally, behavioural skills like
      • one’s speed to learn
      • adapting based on new information
      • multifaceted thinking that recognizes there’s more than one approach to solving a problem – and
      • the determination to not give up, despite obstacles

will complement people skills – from active listening to creative problem-solving.

  1. ‘Grow With The Flow’
    • Project leaders must commit to rapid and relentless learning, cultivating a wide-ranging curiosity, simplifying complexity, and adapting quickly.
    • Leaders should embrace a growth mindset – an ethos and understanding that people will continue to learn and polish higher-level skill sets, including problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. These timeless skills can replace others as they become obsolete due to the raise of automation and artificial intelligence.
  2. Disregard Convention
    • Organizations that were clinging tightly to long-established norms now have even more incentive to finally break free of red tape and hierarchy.
    • Project leaders could benefit from embodying a flexible mindset as they respond to new digital transformation demands and learning how to adapt to new realities more readily can ease the transition.
  3. Stay Hyper-Focused
    • As the pandemic recedes and companies begin reinventing their futures, project leaders must mirror those efforts by concentrating on a company’s purpose, determining exactly what is necessary to deliver the most benefits and then executing, rather than chasing many high-level, spread-out goals without real purpose due to missing coherence.

 

Read the full article in the November/December 2020 edition of the PM Network publication of the PMI institute here.