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Marut Bhardwaj

Country Head of Potential Project, India

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Thinking Beyond Survival: Towards A Conscious, Human Evolution

Leadership is evolving from being doers to being influencers, and leaders are intentionally strengthening their influence to connect better with teams and peers.

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Thinking Beyond Survival: Towards A Conscious, Human Evolution
Thinking Beyond Survival: Towards A Conscious, Human Evolution

Evolution can be viewed this way. The environment presents a challenge beyond our ability to handle. Until the problem is solved or a consequence results, we try and try again. By doing so, we learn and grow. Then comes a bigger challenge. We figure out a way of meeting it, and we learn and grow again. This continues and we keep getting better and better, in fact, we become the best that we need to be to survive.

We have experienced the same in this current pandemic that is bringing about more conscious and human evolution. Earlier, good leadership meant having a strong resume, a list of accomplishments and strategic results to confirm success. In many organizations, the performance of a leader was primarily measured by skills such as the ability to execute a strategy, implement processes, or create policies. The ability of a leader to develop talent, engage employees in constructive coaching conversations, promote diversity, and encourage inclusion was harder to measure. In fact, such measurements were rarely considered for performance evaluation.

And then came 2020. This was the year that forced organizations and leaders to rethink the way they operate.

Human-centered rebuilding

It is easier to build systems, processes, and policies with human-centric design at their core once leaders understand what their organizations stand for and have a clear understanding of what they need to make them grow. Moving from a pandemic to a post-pandemic mindset, businesses are considering how they will prepare the next generation of leaders to deal with the stress and uncertainty. In such a scenario, human-centred leadership proves to be an indispensable approach.

There is no universal, one-of-a-kind, uniform approach to performance management in the face of a global pandemic when employees must work under different conditions in different environments. In light of these myriad issues, we see leaders paving a new way forward. This path includes human leadership skills:

Strategy first

For business leaders who wish to excel in this fast-paced and complex business environment, it is necessary to understand how the new world will unfold and what their company's role will be. For this, company leadership needs to be strategic, consider future options that will create value, and create a powerful position for the company.

Leading with Humility

Leaders of the digital age are expected to take on bold challenges (such as quitting certain jobs or taking on new roles) in times of uncertainty. But to do that, they must also be humble enough to admit their own limitations and to bring on board others with very different skills, experiences, and backgrounds.

It’s all about Integrity

Leadership requires leaders to compromise, to be flexible with their strategies, as well as to be willing to take a step backward in order to take two steps forward. However, trust and integrity must be the foundation for all leaders' actions for this to work. The parties involved in an ecosystem can only collaborate effectively if they can trust each other.

It is now becoming critical that the leaders are not afraid of being vulnerable in front of their staff. In fact leaders that accept they “don’t know”, and admit if they make a mistake are admired for their honesty and authenticity. Employees don't expect perfection from their leaders, and if the leaders refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes, they could well alienate them.

Trust and integrity are fundamental tenets of any business. Such values cannot be created by our devices; they must be pursued by humane leaders making deliberate choices measured by their actions and words.

Insight over data

Data is plentiful for organizations, but there is little understanding of how intangible assets, such as reputation, human capital, and intellectual property, are valued. Organizations must rethink how they set up these measurement systems. We value what we measure.

In order to achieve effective well-being systems, investments in mental health initiatives alone are not sufficient. The goal should be to determine whether the initiatives are being utilized by individuals who need them. A striking feature of the pandemic is that it has concentrated on these intangible assets, which are hard to measure by definition. The importance of these intangible assets will be evident when it comes to retaining and acquiring talent.

From Doers to Influencers

Leadership is evolving from being doers to being influencers, and leaders are intentionally strengthening their influence to connect better with teams and peers. Skillsets are shifting and organizations are moving from a traditional to a modern approach to leadership. As long as people feel connected to the organization and know how their individual contributions make a difference, they will thrive and will be able to give their all to work and engage fully, leading to great business results.

As we transition into a post-pandemic era, leaders who successfully leverage lessons learned from the pandemic and find a way to balance the paradoxes discussed above will emerge as true leaders. In the coming future, there needs to be a renewed, focused commitment to investing in employees i.e., the human aspect of organizations. Leaders who adopt a humane mindset, where thinking is passionately directed toward something higher, something greater than just surviving, may be the catalyst for reversing the current fear-based paradigm in business and life. In this way, we may be able to live consciously and compassionately in a more human world of work.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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