The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the world as we know it, presenting unique challenges that many business leaders have never confronted before. With a continuously shifting landscape, technology resilience is key to protect the health of both people and business. At a high management level, technology can be one of the most useful tools to help you become a better leader. There is no question about it: technology is the driving force behind the new style of leadership especially in these peculiar times. This leadership style embraces change with a focus on improved productivity, communication and collaboration to build effective teams, while establishing robust learning process for continuous skill development that answer evolving market needs.
With remote working, there is a huge shift in the way we work and people are more digitally connected to their leaders than they ever have been. The demands on people have never been higher as they are having to cope with myriad aspects, be it health concerns, caring for children and elderly at home and household work, along with professional deliverables at work. The leaders have a larger responsibility to understand these challenges and stride this situation more wisely and carefully by optimising technology smartly. The ability to effectively use technology is contingent on how openly people embrace it and their understanding of how it can make their life better. This is where leaders can play a pivotal role and lead by example, demonstrating that technology is an essential resource and not merely a tactical solution to a problem. This mindset opens up limitless possibilities of how technology can be a powerful transformational enabler for every single individual across the organization.
Circumstances created by a pandemic, such as COVID-19 have been hugely disruptive and could even render organizations paralytic, if they are far removed from any understanding of how technology is an imperative and not optional add on. This is why it is critical to have a proactive mindset to technology, instead of a reactive approach. Proactive investment in technology is helping organizations reap maximum benefits as this approach allows leaders to prepare their people to embrace and become comfortable in using technology, so that it becomes spontaneously embedded in an organization at a fundamental level. The investments we proactively made many years ago, whether in secure virtual platforms or AI driven due diligence processes that help automate how we finalize our contracts, has helped us seamlessly adapt to working with minimum disruption. The biggest asset has been the spontaneous comfort level of our people in adapting to this transformed scenario of working from home, due to their prior high degree of familiarity with using technology platforms and processes at work over the past many few years, ensuring our ability to optimize productivity.
Effective teamwork is at the heart of lasting success, smart leaders have always known that. The challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic created was the sudden and abrupt transition to work from home, across the board. This has likely caught many people unawares because of not being used to working for a prolonged period of time from home. Apart from any potential discomfort people might feel working from home, because of reliance on the office environment and its facilities, such change can also cause mental disorientation that comes from not being able to physically interact with colleagues. This is an area where technology has been a game changer in helping build effective teams.
Collaborative and social enterprise tools, particularly task-based systems, enable teams to work across boundaries and share information and expertise to support effective outcomes. Such platforms help leaders connect and align, in a top down and bottom up approach across the organization, and enable their people to pursue and deliver any missions that are outlined. With technology making virtual interaction easier than ever, it facilitates ongoing contact amongst team members, enabling them to get to know one another better and stay on the same page, which keeps them from becoming disengaged and less accountable. Online chat tools and virtual meeting platforms not only enable exchange of vital information, but also encourage camaraderie that remote-based teams can often find difficult to cultivate and nurture. We have seen high participation levels among our people in using virtual collaboration platforms such as Microsoft teams that has not only helped build strong engagement among colleagues, alleviating to a large extent a feeling of isolation stemming from working from home, but has also enabled seamless work by interacting with clients and other external stakeholders. Many initiatives we have organized over the past many months, such as firm wide interactions with our leaders through virtual town halls and mental wellness sessions, have significantly helped in keeping leaders across the firm connected to our people and enhancing their motivation levels, demonstrating how virtual platforms can help build, engage and effective teams.
Skill development remains a key focus for organisations and technology is transforming how learning programs are delivered. Disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic poses a challenge for the learning aspect as well and raises questions around how to ensure the impact and momentum of learning programs that were designed to be delivered in physical proximity. The question remains around how we can ensure the participation and engagement of people, so they are able to imbibe learning from within a virtual environment? Many organizations often, when shifting to virtual learning, tend to reuse existing materials and formats rather than designing these from scratch. It needs to be considered that the challenges and opportunities of the virtual world are likely to be much different than those stemming from physical interactions. It’s an area, where we have made investments and are soon scheduled to launch a smart virtual platform solely dedicated to delivering learning programs that drive engagement and accountability for learning.
COVID-19 has drastically shortened the time frame for organisations to adopt digital transformation, as opportunities that businesses expected to have years to prepare for, are already converging upon them. To meet these challenges, leaders will need to innovate, invent, and redefine themselves. How quickly and responsibly organisations deploy technology also matters. The advantage that technology can offer has always been quite clear, the question is how fast organisations can embrace it as they head into a fast-changing future.
This is intended for general information purposes only. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the firm.
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