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2021: Leading into the Unknown

2021: Leading into the Unknown

„In a global pandemic we don’t need leaders with experience, we need leaders with the ability to coach!“
- Anne Scoular

 No one in charge in business or government today has any experience with global pandemics. Therefore experience doesn’t help. And if management by control and demand should ever have created great results, it definitely will not in changeful times like these. In a world of radical change and perfect uncertainty leading into the unknown is more important and more challenging than ever. What do leaders need to master the challenges of the pandemic in 2021? We say it’s trust, judgement and courage.

 Trust: The bigger the challenge, the more leaders need to rely on their people. Trusting in the strengths they showed in last year’s crisis. Not telling them how to do things but what to aim for. Truly transferring responsibility, creating greatest possible freedom to make decisions … and mistakes. If leaders cannot control situations they need to rely on their people’s commitment and accountability. The basis of all this is trust and only trust will bring out the best of yourself and your people.

 Judgement: In times of crisis everything changes abruptly, knowledge is incomplete, nothing seems predictable. Thinking in scenarios, going with the dynamics of change and staying in close touch with key players are critical components of leading into the unknown. The leader’s role is not to know it all but to activate the incorporated knowledge and ability of the team. It’s not about the leader’s individual judgement, it’s about the collective judgement of the team under your leadership.

 Courage: Courage is the ability to overcome fear in dangerous situations. In a world of global risk it is the essential strength of character for leaders since the practice of all other virtues depends on it. Overcoming fear rubs off to the people around. Courage enables courage, provides orientation and creates confidence. And courage is the key component of trust in the sense of showing vulnerability. All this starts with you as a leader, requiring you to overcome fear in the face of risk.

 Trusting your people, relying on your and their judgment, overcoming fear and facilitating an atmosphere of optimism is the best starting position for both, coping with the challenges at hand and preparing for new beginnings.

 Jan Kiel


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