Lost Leaders of the COVID Century

What happens when leaders don’t know the way? What happens when they’re tired of finding the way – and they’re wired with employees demanding them to build a new way?

There is a real struggle going on for leaders of the Covid-climate. The road is hard and it’s nasty and it’s expectant and above all, it’s whipped with anxiety – and no one’s talking about it.

Since the horrific turn of our lives in March 2020, something happened to all business leaders in South Africa and the world – they were called to serve. Their mandate was simple: take responsibility for your employee’s health and their survival and keep them safe and comfortable while we navigate modern history’s most devastating global pandemic.

Not simple at all.

Leaders of multinational corporations, franchise chains and small business owners of South Africa took up the challenge and accepted their duty as ‘saviour’: the paperwork, the business knocks, the bank negotiations, the months and months of over communication and policy changes, the website updates, the health and wellness expenses, 1000 bottles of sanitiser, endless orders of thermometers, technology upgrades, new acronyms that had something to do with insurance funds and loans. And that was just the beginning.

Then came the anxiety followed by the sorrow, the worry, the panic and the silent killer question – how will I  keep my business surviving?

While CEOs were so busy in support and survival mode and stepping up to resilience in the face of adversity, a lot of them lost their way. More than this, South African business owners lost their nerve, began doubting their decisions and started playing puppet to policy changes and employee expectations.

Pre COVID, burnout was a topic of discussion in business forums, and worrying about employee wellness was an additional stress indicator for business owners.  Today it’s no longer a topic, it’s a lifestyle. And it’s dangerous. The pressure on leaders to take care of employees has exacerbated stress levels in business owners of the Covid Century, resulting in an increase in employee demand and the lines between employee and employer being blurred.

While COVID has forced leaders to become more compassionate, more empathetic, more adjusted in terms of policy and conduct it seems the more leaders do, the more they are expected to do. The more they adjust, the more employees expect them to adjust, and the more the captains of industry walk ahead, the more lost they become.

So, here are 4 Leadership Steps for the lost leaders of today – to help navigate your employees, reshape your business and find your way in the time of COVID:

  1. Redraw the line

COVID or no COVID you are still in charge. Your employees will always expect you to be the Boss, so be the Boss – don’t be the friend. It’s your business right as a leader to draw the boundary line, and not feel guilty about it.

  1. ‘Yes’ is not a free pass

Remember the word ‘No’? Of course, you do. Too many yeses are fun for some, but not for you – and not for the business either. It’s not your responsibility to always say ‘Yes’. No is still an option in 2021. See number 1!

  1. Build your Advantage Radar

Start flexing your bull*%^& muscle. Everyone and their aunty will have a new story to tell you about how uncomfortable their lives are and just how much more comfortable it would be if you could help them … uh uh – stop right there.

  1. Take a course in EI

If you don’t know what EI stands for – take a course. Emotional Intelligence is an undisputed leadership skill in our times, and forevermore. This will help you manage your teams better and present you with alternatives to most human situations. In fact, while you’re at it, send your employees on an EI course too for improved team appreciation and #mentalwellness. Everyone wins.