Often as we navigate our way through tough times, true leadership falls by the wayside. That old trap of spending more time working IN your business rather than ON it may seem like the only way to keep your head above water. But if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that good leadership can mean the difference between going under or coming out the other side stronger than ever.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most important leadership lessons we’ve learned from COVID, and why these are not just important during the tough times.
Get back to basics
We’re all guilty of getting caught up in the day-to-day of our business – keeping on top of emails, solving various problems and pursuing new business ideas. After the initial shock of the pandemic, we were forced to take a step back and assess what was truly important and examine our core aim as a business, who we help and the outcomes we provide.
As a leader, you need to clearly articulate your vision and your direction for the business, now and for the months and years ahead. This often begins with formalising your vision and sharing it, element by element, with your team.
As a leader, your ability to communicate clearly and effectively is paramount. There’s no point having clarity of vision if you can’t communicate it with your team and use it to rally the troops.
In the immediate wake of COVID lockdowns and restrictions, the best leaders were those who communicated quickly and consistently with not only their teams but their customers, suppliers, external advisors and key alliances as well. They invited feedback, questions and suggestions. They focused on maintaining trust and developing a sense of shared responsibility, which is invaluable during challenging periods.
Good communication also allows you to observe the strengths and qualities within your team. The ability to recognise strengths in others, often qualities that are different or complementary to your own, is central to effective leadership.
Get real about your finances
It’s easy to lose focus on the numbers when it’s business as usual. During COVID, business owners were forced to get a good grip on their finances, especially their cashflow and tax obligations. Those with a strong understanding of their financial position were able to re-structure loan agreements or leverage finance in order to ride out disruptions and continue to forge ahead.
Good leaders stay well informed at all times, not just during times of adversity. This doesn’t have to mean that you’re across every dollar going in and out of your business – rather that you have systems in place and access to good advice about the things that matter most to your bottom line. This will allow you to make decisions with confidence.
Much has been said about the importance of agility in business, and COVID offered a “baptism of fire” for many business leaders. Agile business leaders are those who can adapt quickly to market changes, respond rapidly to customer demands and lead change without compromising quality.
As a leader, being agile is all about staying aware, being present in your business and having the flexibility to take on new ideas. As we grapple with the “new normal” of COVID, leadership will come to define the way in which businesses deal with the uncertainty and change ahead.
By now, we all probably know of a business or two that has not survived the past 12 months. For many, this has been outside the scope of their control. However, if the experience of COVID can encourage us all to adopt more creative, adaptive and resilient thinking – this will be at least one positive outcome.
At the end of the day, each of the lessons we’ve learned through COVID are valuable, and not just during a pandemic. And as we brace for further uncertainty ahead, the more we can do to arm ourselves to be the best leaders possible, the better.
Core Business Accountants specialise in business advice for growing and mature family-owned and small and medium-sized businesses. If you need business advice or you would like to discuss any of the matters outlined in the article, please contact us on 5438 8088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.corebusiness.com.au