Now it is a good time to look back and think about leadership lessons that the past year taught us.
The year 2020 is definitely was very different because of the COVID-19 crisis. Perhaps we will see this year as less significant in the future, after 10 years, when we will have experience of new challenges that we do not know about yet.
During this year, activities in most of the organizations were not “business as usual” – some companies had extra orders, others had to deal with threats of being closed. Almost all of us were practicing how to work and study from distance, from home.
This year was special because of the elections in Lithuania and JAV, many Lithuanians, who are interested in political and economical life, became involved in it. Also, differences between generations became more evident. Z generation not only becomes a more important and active segment but also directly participates in the formation of the government.
In this whirlwind of challenges (seems like it will always be like this) more and more important becomes not the strategic direction, speed, purity of values, and morality but the human factor. We have to accept that „how“ becomes more important than „who“ and „what“. Even excellent, promising ideas, truthful, good things implemented in a rough way without listening are denied; meanwhile, empty, bad but well-communicated goals receive approval.
People naturally want to get involved in decision-making and express their opinion while the extent of the education is getting wider and the education paradigm is changing, everybody is getting empowered, relationships between leaders and employees are getting more and more horizontal. The social networking factor also contributes to this.
In this situation one of the most essential „how“ in leadership becomes the ability to work with people – attention to the person, good communication, and the ability to find the agreement; it is very important how do you communicate, what relationship do you create and your ability to involve other people.
When I see situations where people do not want to hear each other when they communicate like stubborn goats and only want to prove their truth, I see that such individuals are socially isolated (not because of COVID but because of their character features), they have no ability to empathize with another person, they are full of grievances and do not understand their true motives, therefore, they can not notice factors that drive other people and what interests do they have.
The rake, that the leaders step on, is their inability to communicate with their followers – they feel very important, are focused only on themselves, and do not pay enough attention to other people. They miss the point that good communication with each other is the essence of leadership and change, especially during this time when we are forced to stay at home, far away from each other physically and with different interests.
Now it is becoming clear that alone in the field nobody is a soldier, especially during the time of COVID. Only if I am consistently explaining what is going on, what I am doing, why I am doing so, and only by hearing and answering the arguments of others I can gather my team and achieve desired goals. People do not know what is in my head. My decision and my vision are not self-obvious.
Therefore the main lesson is about communication, the ability to speak and reach an agreement. We have to make sure that good, virtuous, wise, and long-term goals are not destroyed by poor communication. This seems to be the main leadership lesson of 2020.
Dr. Alisa Miniotaitė is a management and leadership expert, founder of UAB ALISA MANAGEMENT LABORATORY, ISM University of Management and Economics, Leadership Program Manager