How Is Leadership Changing During COVID? Reflections As A Female Leader

Changing Leadership,
Changing Leadership In COVID: The term “leadership” has been defined in several forms of literature be it books, blogs or vlogs, as a trait that comes from compassion, empathy and patience.

While these attributes are meant to be gender agnostic and applicable to any leader, male or female, it is a human expectation that a female leader should necessarily manifest them. I am not saying it is a rule but it is more than often, an underlying expectation. The truth is that these attributes can actually be more beneficial to the leader than the receiver.

We are living in an era where the corporate demographic can be classified into three age groups: 20 – 30 years, 30 – 50 years and 50 years and above where in each of these age groups have had different kinds of exposure and behavioural patterns. In my experience, the 20 – 30 year olds are impatient, restless, directionless and not loyal. They want quick redemption and gratification and equate their efforts to immediate results. Having said that, it does not mean that they do not have any good qualities or talent that can be honed. Their exposure and understanding of the ever changing landscape via technology is impeccable and their creative thinking makes them look at opportunities that most older people would compare with the past and possibly disregard, reject or ignore.

The 30 – 50 year olds are possibly those set of people who are dependable and have a head on their shoulders because they have a need to settle down, provide and nurture themselves and/ or their families who may be dependent on them. These individuals have possibly jumped multiple companies and now have come to the conclusion that they need to settle down and establish their career. They want to lead a team and their previous years of transition have given them a sense of variety and knowledge which they feel they can now apply at one company be it as an employee or even an entrepreneur.

The 50 year olds and above are in a unique place because they have spent more than 50% of their lifetime working and would want to look at their next set of years either as someone who has retired or can build something on his/ her own. This is also the age which the younger working professionals look up to for mentorship to apply to their own career growth.

Post the pandemic, the need for becoming technology savvy has become imperative. While this came naturally to the younger generation, it is the older generation who have had to make a huge change in their approach with meetings to be conducted online and status updates on projects to be followed up with subordinates or team members via devices rather than face-to-face. In an in-person environment, meetings were very erratic and quite impromptu. As a leader, I also saw myself being more impatient and urgent. However, after working from home for almost 18 months, as a leader, I have realised that it is important to give space to your team members as well as enable and empower them with the ability of taking decisions as well managing their time.

It is very important to schedule meetings in intervals or specific days which makes the team accountable for moving things ahead and giving them a sense of responsibility. I believe as a leader, you need to be involved in your team’s lives only to the level that they are comfortable to divulge. Being empathetic to one’s situation in a pre or post COVID-19 scenario is elementary towards getting a good performance out of your team member. Giving him or her the control of handling life and work with a balance plays a very vital role in results. The focus needs to be on identifying the strengths of the individual and driving those strengths towards performance. The individual needs to feel happy with the work he/ she is doing to be constantly productive and result oriented. Recognising the strength and giving leads on how he/ she can improve on those strengths will make the individual feel invested in and thus give back in return with a sense of achievement.

I believe as a leader, you need to be involved in your team’s lives only to the level that they are comfortable to divulge.

25 years ago, the definition of a leader was one that you would call as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ and be expected to address accordingly. Today, being a leader is displaying respect and approachability no matter the age or the level of the person you are dealing with. The key thing is that you can only be a leader if you are willing to listen, learn, educate and impart with respect and command. Leadership does not define a reporting structure. Leadership defines influence.

Soumini Sridhara Paul is the Senior Vice President of Hungama Artist Aloud. The views expressed are the author’s own and not that of SheThePeople.