As organizations reimagine the future and redesign business models, leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t look all that different from leadership during times of normalcy, said Shanequa Fleming, CEO of Culture Accelerators, during “A Leadership Mindset,” a Wertheim Wisdom Wednesdays virtual event.
Leaders should keep an eye on changes happening around them, maintain self-awareness and create a culture of communication and support, Fleming said during the hour-long conversation moderated by Jennifer Quintana, executive director of development for the College of Business.
“Leadership really begins in the mind, so cultivate a mindset of: ‘Who will I have to be as a leader to create the outcomes that I want in my team and my organization?’” Fleming said.
While ‘Zoom’ became a noun, then a verb, then a diagnosis as the pandemic exploded, the shift to a digital economy was a decade in the making and astute leaders prepared for this. Looking ahead, Fleming said, 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 don’t exist today, according to research authored by the Institute for the Future.
The Institute for The Future (IFTF). This is published in a report by Dell Technologies and authored by the Institute for The Future.
“You have to be able to understand the story it is telling us and as leaders, move forward,” she said.
Companies looking to reinvent themselves should collaborate with others in the industry. “There is no status quo because everyone is open to doing new things and taking advantage,” Fleming said. “Eventually the dust will settle and people will go back into comfortability, and it will become harder.”
As leaders navigate these unchartered waters, they should constantly reevaluate themselves and seek feedback from employees. “If we don’t know who we are as leaders and what we believe in, it makes it extremely challenging to be decisive – and leaders have to be decisive,” Fleming said.
They also need to reconsider what it means to be productive now that work is largely remote. “Debunk some of the old myths about how work gets done and where work gets done,” she said. “Instead of measuring our progress based on meetings we’ve had, understand how to engage digitally and how to highlight our impact in ways to show the value of what we do.”
Make employees feel valuable and create a flexible, supportive environment to stem the exodus of women from the workforce, especially because companies will come back stronger than ever and need talent.
“Companies can’t afford to lose women leaders,” Fleming said. And in working to solve issues around diversity, equity and inclusion, ask people what they need rather than assume. For example, Fleming said, don’t expect her to speak for every African American but let her share her own story: “People don’t hear your story; they hear their story in your story.”