Leadership Examples in the Time of COVID

Leadership Examples in Post Lockdown

Each and every industry has been hit hard one way or another due to COVID. As countries continue to reopen and reduce restrictions, people are expecting some type of normalcy to return to the workplace. But what does normal mean in the workplace? And what does it mean in terms of leading others? We must remember that while we see reopening happening, the pandemic has not gone. Therefore, all leaders need to analyse their best approach for this recovery stage of the crisis. Here we will look at the leadership examples that we can practice for better results.  

Stream of white origami paper being led by a red one

First, we will look at the styles that can help. Secondly, we will discuss how and why they can be effective. Finally, we will look at leadership styles to avoid and why in these uncertain times. 

Remember, leaders need to be able to mix and match between different leadership styles, all depending on the situation you are facing. Some leadership styles simply don’t work in certain situations and can have disastrous results. This is why we need to better understand the different styles, examples of how to use them, and what to avoid. 

Leadership Examples: Post Lockdown Overview  

To begin with, we must have the mindset that post COVID and post lockdown are 2 very different things. Post COVID still seems a long way away with cases still high in so many countries. On the other hand, post lockdown has been launched in so many countries, but with varying restrictions still in place.    

So, what does leadership look like in this post lockdown landscape? Every effort is being made around the world to avoid further lockdowns in the future. Focus on economic regrowth is a major priority for all countries while keeping team mental and physical wellbeing as a constant target. With so many people preparing to go back to workplaces, where should leadership focus be? 

First, we need to understand what leadership looked like in our workplace before. Next, look at what major changes have been made in your company as a result of the crisis. Then, consider where you are going next in terms of team development, business targets, and overall goals and targets.  

Some current leadership challenges to consider will be: 

  • The emotional impact of returning to the workplace. 
  • Time to readjust 
  • Ongoing restrictions that need enforcing 
  • Face-to-face interactions 
  • Meeting requirements 
  • Roles and responsibilities 

With each of these challenges, different leadership styles should be used to address these concerns in the right way. 

Affiliative Leadership Style 

So, for any people-related issues, affiliative leadership is the style to use. As affiliative leaders put people first, this style will ensure that the needs and concerns of the workforce are front and centre. This leadership example puts people and their emotions as the priority when making decisions and taking action.    

Closeup of two people holding hands

Affiliative leaders show empathy, communicate well, and create an atmosphere of harmony in the workplace. As they try to avoid conflict, they want to find resolutions in the team that will suit all parties. Affiliative leaders are known to provide psychological safety, making them very popular among the workforce.  

Advantages and Disadvantages  

Affiliative leaders create positive workplaces. This leads to increased motivation and wellbeing. This leadership style allows for people to feel at ease. They also create emotional connections with others, allowing people to feel comfortable to share feelings and concerns. This could help in the current climate where many in your team might feel some level of unease about returning to the workplace.    

However, this leadership style is ineffective in times of crisis or when tough decisions need to be made. Therefore, while restrictions are easing, the post lockdown workplace still needs a leader to be able to make tough choices when needed. Also, avoid using this leadership style in times when policies and procedures must be enforced without question.    

How to Use it Right Now

Using affiliative leadership in post lockdown will be an important factor when addressing the needs of your team. For example, show confidence in decisions that are made for returning to the workplace. Show compassion for those who may struggle with the small day-to-day activities. Listen to what your team members are saying about being back at work. And, give attention to the general wellbeing of your team as they adjust to the workplace again.    

Transformational Leadership Style 

In these times of uncertainty and change, transformational leadership is a required skill to learn. As decisions are made about how your business will move forward, clear communication and direction will be required. Transformational leaders are known for their encouragement of others, set clear goals, and model the behaviour themselves. Also, they inspire others as well as providing support and recognition. Transformational leadership skills include being self-aware and being able to handle conflict. They are essential at times of change and transition, very much the current workplace so many of us face. 

Advantages and Disadvantages  

While every leadership example has pros and cons, this style helps handle change. One advantage of transformational leadership is being able to move with the times. They adapt more easily to change. They can then action the necessary change throughout the company due to their approach. Also, they are creative in producing solutions along the way that make change easier to accept.  

However, this style can be challenging when the team is quite new and need more constant supervision. Also, not everyone is ready for change and will resist no matter what.   

How to Use it Right Now

Therefore, in the current climate, use this leadership style to hold people accountable for their role in the team. Create common goals for people to work towards. Encourage and support people along the journey of change until they are comfortable. Continue to stay ahead of the competition by allowing creativity to thrive in your company. Finally, don’t dismiss those who struggle with change. Create an understanding of the change that is needed, why, and how they can be a part of the experience.       

Authoritative Leadership Style 

As leadership examples go, this one has its challenges but can get great results. All of us will have rules and regulations to follow and enforce in the current climate. There will also be tough decisions that will need to be made in terms of how to run your business successfully. So, when quick and tough decisions need to be made, the authoritative leader is a good example of the leadership style to use. This leadership style relies on sole control over the decision-making process, with little to no input from others.  However, this style also consists of creating buy-in. Use your communication skills and ability to persuade others to get everyone on board with where you are heading now. 

Taking decisions for the future

At this stage of reviving your business after lockdown, motivating and encouraging others will be important to achieve results. Inspire others through your words and actions. Create an environment where the team can thrive in the current workplace. Lead effectively by sharing the vision and processes required to achieve the end resullts.  

Advantages and Disadvantages   

This style is about control and direction. It is also about inspiration, motivation, and empowerment. All of these would be needed for maintaining tight control for ongoing COVID restrictions as well as getting people back into a “normal” routine. Ensure the reasons for decisions are explained, which would create clarity for necessary practices.  

Avoid overusing this style as it could distance your team from you. Authoritative leaders can be seen as overbearing, with decisions solely in their hands. This style alone will not work in reopening workplaces where people may have their doubts about returning.

How to Use it Right Now

Things may be different from when the team was together in person last. Default to this style to make clear the strict guidelines that need to be followed and enforced. However, use this style sparingly. Remember, rule effectively for the purpose of achieving the expected results and not for the sake of being the “boss”. Also, this leadership example should always be used sparingly.  

Visionary Leadership Style

During these difficult times, your team will want to know what the big picture is. There will be questions about where the company is heading and how you can get there. A visionary leader has these answers and more. Similar to authoritative leaders, they can inspire others. Also, they have a clear understanding of what the customers are looking for. Unlike the authoritative approach, visionary leaders give full autonomy to their team, allowing them to make decisions and use their skills accordingly.

Landscape of a city through the lenses of glasses

Advantages and Disadvantages

This leadership example is great for generating creativity and teamwork in the workplace. These practices allow for great results to be achieved. Another advantage is the energy and passion it instills in the team. That energy can be used to motivate the team and get them to perform beyond even their own expectations.

One disadvantage is that short-term goals are often overlooked. As workplaces want to get their team back on track, having short-term goals can be an effective approach. This style doesn’t allow this to be a major focus. Another disadvantage can be that the big picture focus can seem unrealistic and not everyone will be convinced of the end results they are trying to achieve.

How to Use it Right Now

So, in this ever-changing work environment, use this style to create excitement and a vision for the future. Paint a picture of where you are heading and how you will get there. Communicate the journey clearly and build momentum within the team. Appreciate the commitment and drive of those around you in making the goal a reality. Remember, keep short-term goals front and centre to build up to the bigger long-term goals that have been identified. This will help sustain motivation in achieving the vision that has been set.

Democratic Leadership Style

So, our final choice is the democratic leadership example. Here, we see the team making decisions together and having their say. This brings the team closer together. It also creates commitment from the team when they know their input is valued. Think of a time when your idea, suggestion, or even objection, was put into practice. It felt great, right? Well, that can happen for your team too when they have their time in the spotlight.

Advantages and Disadvantages

First, this style really does promote trust and respect in the workplace. Next, because your team has a voice, they really feel valued and give more to the company. Also, there is increased communication and transparency throughout the company. Finally, the democratic approach can encourage unity in ideas and increase teamwork.

However, like every leadership example, there are some disadvantages. This style can lead to decision-making taking longer if there is consensus. Not everyone will agree with everyone else. Another reason, because you want more people involved in the discussion, meetings can take much longer, reducing productivity. Also, democratic leaders who use this style too much can simply be seen as indecisive.

How to Use it Right Now

Your team may have great ideas about how to get your business back on track. They may also have suggestions about how the workplace can be improved. Listen carefully to their ideas and suggestions. Analyse what could be beneficial to your company moving forward. Involve them in what comes next, they will be more committed to the company and achieving results. Create a collaborative environment by having more people involved in decision-making and problem-solving. One example could be to have a team meeting about how they are adapting to being back in the workplace and what more can be done.

Leadership Examples to Avoid For Now

We have suggested the above styles that should work well in the current work environment. There are some that, for now, we might want to avoid.

Woman with pleading face making x sign with crossed hands on white background

Laissez-Faire Style

This type of leader is known as being very hands-off and for giving lots of freedom to the team. This style allows people to work on their own and really use their skills and experience to get things done. For now, let’s stay away from this style for the following reasons.

The team sets their own time scales so they can procrastinate. Also, not everyone can successfully manage themselves, so things may be left undone. Additionally, it can put unnecessary pressure on the team where there are different levels of performance and results. This can create resentment in the team, leading to breaks in communication and collaboration.

Wait to use this style until the team is better settled back into the workplace. Give them the time to adjust with the proper amount of support and supervision required. Maintain control on how to get the team back on track in terms of workplace productivity.

Autocratic Leadership Style

We all know this style. It sounds like “do it because I said so”. This style does have its advantages. However, in today’s environment, let’s stay clear of it for now. Here’s why.

Some of the challenges we mentioned earlier mean that people need reassurance and empathy going back to work. This does not exist with this leadership style. They need to understand the reasons behind certain decisions which this style doesn’t allow for. Also, your team will want to know that any concerns they have about returning to work will be listened to, Again, this style doesn’t take this into consideration.

Avoid being seen as the dictator in the workplace that creates distance between you and your team. Instead, be authoritative in your approach rather than autocratic. Explain decisions to create better buy-in. Finally, listen to the ideas and suggestions of your team rather than simply making all decisions alone.

Leadership Examples Wrap Up

So, there you have it. Now that we have increased workplace openings again, our leadership approach will need to be carefully considered. Keep your team front and centre in your plans moving forward. Remember, you need them in order to achieve your company goals. With that in mind, lead from the front, include others, and be flexible in your approach, depending on the situation. While one style does not suit every situation, be ready to adjust your leadership style accordingly.

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