What’s needed in post pandemic leadership? The answer is clear.
The pandemic isn’t over, but a few things are becoming clear: leadership in a post-pandemic world will have to change. As companies contemplate what a return to work will look like and how to define a new normal, some are returning immediately to the old play book. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, impatiently said that working from home does “not work for young people,” and doesn’t work for those who want “to hustle.” Goldman Sachs issued a memo expecting employees in the US and the UK to be back to work in June.
Dan Price, CEO of the online credit card processing company Gravity Payments, took the opposite approach.
“Instead of making a top-down CEO decision, we asked our 200 employees where they want to work,” Price tweeted. “Only 7% wanted to go back to the office full time. 31% wanted a home-office hybrid. 60% wanted full time remote work. So we told everyone; Do what you want. This stuff isn’t hard.”
As some workplaces open and some wait out the crisis, it’s evident that while we’ve been working from home, we’ve been doing some thinking. In April, 4 million people left their jobs, suggesting there is less a worker shortage than a reevaluation of how we are willing to engage with our work. Leaders are as concerned now as they were when the pandemic first hit. What’s to be done in this environment?
The answer, fortunately, is the same as it’s always been: a focus on people. The U.S. Army’s maxim is mission first, people always. When you take care of your people, they take care of the mission. Those companies which decide to focus relentlessly on the people who do the work are the companies that will prevail. Those which do not will have a difficult road ahead.
Where can a leader start?
1. Know the problem is bigger than you think. Recognizing the disconnect in the perceived and actual ability to give voice to concerns between those in management and front line workers is an important starting place as well. A study of workers in the UK highlighted this divide, noting that front line workers often have less access to technology in their daily life and work, and beyond the professional barriers may also have social divides…