People, Culture and Inclusion

Leadership: Now and Next.


Leadership: Now and Next.

Colleagues reading this who have some kind of leadership function in the University may be feeling a weight of responsibility beyond their previous expectations. Risk assessments, virtual team discussions, complete this checklist, discuss that issue, be authentic, be an ally, hold their anxiety, fill out this form, do this in less time than before….sound familiar?

Leadership has never, ever, been a straight road; however, our aptitude and competence as people leaders is being tested like never before. The rules of the game have been rewritten over the last few months, and just as we were perhaps starting to get a handle on lockdown operations it has changed again and we are looking toward a different long term future.

This blog, sadly, does not provide a quick formula for effective leadership right now – no fairy dust here. But instead I offer a selection of insightful reading that might help you navigate at this time. Or at least gives you a few minutes to turn off Teams and your email and pick up your coffee while it’s still hot.

Thinking about how we are operating now, one of the biggest challenges many managers might be facing, is addressing their own relationship with trust. Now your team members aren’t so visible, how do you know what they are up to? This ‘Remote Managers are having Trust Issues’ article shares recent research that explores this issue. Once of the key takeaways for leaders is to focus on outcomes and results, and worry less about inputs.

Talking, openly and honestly, about our mental health and wellbeing is critical. ‘How to have supportive conversations about the impact of coronavirus’ is a short and sweet article and gets to the nub of this topic.

And we mustn’t forget to look out for ourselves:

How would an old friend or a mentor who wishes the best for me reassure me and support me?

HBR: How to Handle the Pressure of Being a Manager Right Now

The next couple of articles look to the future, for the next stages in our leadership.

Matthew Taylor, the well respected CEO of the RSA has written this article, Leadership After Covid-19, which highlights many of the tensions between embracing new ways of being with the realities of financial constraints. His key recommendations are: to look after yourself; engage, engage, engage; and recognise there are worse things than failing. Whilst he may be thinking organisationally, the messages are the same for each of us as leaders.

Another article, from the Harvard Business Review, explores the shift from crisis to recovery, recognising the need to recalibrate before moving forward:

Don’t think of recovery as just going back to work and adopting your old habits. Create new meaning. Ask questions: “What was the point of this crisis? What will we do if this happens again? What did we learn from this case? How can we move faster next time?” Find a realistic sense of optimism — “What should we change?” Priorities need to be reset, plans must be adjusted, and resources must be redirected. “Renewal, not return” 

Leading into post-covid recovery: Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg

The final resource I am going to highlight is our own. Hopefully most of you have by now found our reorientation website. One section of this is our Line Manager’s toolkit, a developing set of resources for leaders. If there is something that would be a helpful addition to this, please let us know.

Juliet Flynn, Organisational and People Development

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