Leading in the New Normal: Part 1

When we look back to last January, I’m sure a lot of us expected 2020 and the beginning of a new decade to be a lot less volatile. A coronavirus pandemic, the public killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, another hyper-polarized election cycle and the fall resurgence of COVID-19 have all led to a tumultuous year for individuals, teams and organizations.

This volatility is clearly reflected in Gallup’s employee engagement polls. Prior to COVID-19, employee engagement in the U.S. was at 37 percent — the highest in Gallup’s 20 years of tracking. By mid-summer, employee engagement experienced a sharp drop to 31 percent.

What does employee engagement have to do with the pain, frustration and challenges we have collectively felt and experienced in 2020?

Well, for decades, employee engagement has been found to be a strong predictor of organizational success during times of change —whether economic, technological or social. Organizations in the top quartile of engagement, compared to the bottom quartile, experience more profitability, more productivity and lower turnover.

This post is part one of two we’ll share this week and includes best practices for individuals and leaders in organizations to support them in navigating the ‘new normal’ we’ve all found ourselves in during 2020 — as discussed by world-renowned leadership experts from Fisher College of Business and connected community.

Best Practice #1: Be a growth-oriented leader

“A growth-oriented leader does not deny failure — in fact, the opposite. To grow, we need to take stock of when we fall short.” – Dr. Timothy A. Judge, Alutto Chair in Leadership Effectiveness; Executive Director, Fisher Leadership Initiative; Professor of Management and Human Resources; Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

How exactly can you inspire yourself, a team or an organization to embrace growth? Start by embracing these values: inclusion, potential, learning, openness, accepting risk and seeking challenge.

Although the world of 2020 has shifted how we work, it has also created the opportunity to make shifts in our cultures.

Take a few minutes to reflect on your individual approach to work or team/organizational culture:

  • What are your core beliefs about your work outcomes and performance?
  • Do you have room to grow? Is failure embraced as a learning opportunity?

Best Practice #2: Examine your network

“Know your focus, and branch out.” – Dr. Tanya Menon, Professor of Management and Human Resources, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

The physical constraints of 2020 have caused a great many of us to halt or drastically change how we meet new individuals, expose ourselves to new experiences and interact with new ideas.

Spending a few minutes in self-reflection to complete a network self-diagnoses can help illuminate opportunities for us to continue to grow:

  • In your professional career, are you positioned for closed-network activities – e.g., small, high-performing team work — or open-network activities —e.g., interaction across a broad spectrum of your team/organization?
  • Where do you go for new ideas? ...Now, examine the diversity of those sources — are you missing some voices? If so, who isn’t at your table?

Want to go one step further? Initiate a conversation with a colleague regarding your diagnosis. Share your reflection, hear their observations and set a goal to expand your network for this last month of 2020.

Watch for part two highlights for leading in our ‘new normal’ later this week!




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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.