There’s no doubt that 2020 was a turbulent year for leaders in all businesses, but about a year ago, as we turned the page on the new year of 2021, many of us, myself included, imagined the next 12 months would be a bit smoother. We were wrong. And if that lesson taught us anything, it’s that whether we like it or not, 2022 is bound to reveal more rough seas ahead as we fight to grow our businesses and help our customers thrive in the new, ever-changing global economy.
The digital infrastructure sector supported the survival and growth of so many business entities over the last few years and has proven to be the backbone of our economy and society. Yet, before March of 2020, most people didn’t give much thought to the infrastructure making the modern, tech-dependent world continue to work.
The saying that we are all in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat, was all the more evident through this turbulence. So what contributed to the success of those that survived and thrived? What skills did they have at the ready in their boats? My best guess would be that those with the skill and ability to adapt and adopt a new leadership style saw their companies grow and move in new, even improved, directions.
On the opposite side, if you lead one of those companies that have veered off course and need to right their ships, keep these four things in mind:
Great leaders must be great coaches
Great leaders must be better humans
Great leaders communicate purpose
Great leaders plan for their own demise
Start on your new leadership path by memorizing this three-word mantra – “coach, coach, coach.” Great leaders must be great coaches for their team, coaching them often and consistently, providing the direction and support needed to navigate tough times. If you’re not coaching your team, no matter how talented and self-directed they are, you’re letting them down – big time! As in sports, it’s rare to impossible to find a great championship team that didn’t have a top-notch coach.
The best business people in our new times reverse those two words, understanding that no matter how much AI and technology we have, the vast majority of businesses still need and employ people. The pandemic and events of the last two years highlighted the fragility of our humanity, and mental health issues are on the rise. Many are struggling with fear, isolation, uncertainty. Author Adam Grant described an overriding sense of joylessness and aimlessness as languishing. Thus, if you didn’t focus on it before as a leader, I would strongly encourage you to turn up the dial on your emotional intelligence (EQ) and ensure you bring it with you to your work. Whether in an office, a data center, or a computer in your house, you should be using emotional understanding to make decisions, solve problems, and communicate with others. Just as our boat rocked this way and that, on the waves of 2021, it will undoubtedly continue to be wobbly on the undertow of 2022. Empathy, sincerity, and encouragement will win the day and bring the best out of your teams. If you aren’t confident that your EQ is where it needs to be, hire an executive coach with an EQ focus to work with you to help you become the best coach you can be.