By John Hall
Executives’ expectations for 2021 are high. Many hope to make up for everything that was lost, cancelled or postponed in 2020.
Overcoming the pandemic and political turmoil next year won’t be easy, and these challenges have a way of bleeding into the workplace. Internal leadership will be every bit as important as external needs.
Business leaders must be ready to support their teams mentally, professionally, financially and in every area in between. In 2021, the best leaders will:
Keep Their Spirits High
The events of 2020 were debilitating, distressing and downright exhausting. To keep employees not just motivated but excited to come to work, leaders have to set the tone.
Show up every day with a positive attitude. Make it a point to clock in before your team so you can greet each member as they arrive. Set calendar reminders to provide words of encouragement throughout the day.
Motivating people takes more than daily pick-me-ups, though. Set aside time with each team member to discuss their goals. Start with personal ones, and then discuss professional milestones that support both your business and their own objectives. Making progress together will be uplifting and inspiring for everyone.
Offer Radical Flexibility
One of the biggest trends to come out of 2020 is the sharp increase in remote work. Working from home allowed companies to continue operations while their employees stayed safe from COVID-19.
The pandemic is far from over, and employees know other employers are also offering flexible scheduling. Going into 2021, radical flexibility will be required.
Some employees will feel more comfortable working from home all the time. Others may need just one day a week outside of the office. Others might want to work in the office, but only at night. Cater to as many different schedules as you can.
You can embrace flexibility in additional ways as well. Give employees freedom to decorate and rearrange their desks. Provide additional sick days to help them manage their mental health. As long as their productivity stays high, so should your willingness to be flexible.
Rethink Their Workflow
It’s one thing to let your team work a hybrid schedule or move into a home office. More difficult but just as important is revisiting their workflow.
Learn to do all that you can over digital platforms. If you have to send everyone home again in 2021, you don’t want it to be as much of a disruption as it was in 2020.
Lean on project management systems like Asana and instant messengers like Slack to facilitate remote communication and file sharing. Look for efficiencies, such as writers self-editing their content, to reduce the number of people involved in each process.
Refine Their Culture
Company culture will be more important than ever in 2021. The economy is fluid right now, meaning that many employees are evaluating other opportunities. Make sure you give them a reason to stick with you.
A strong culture is stickier than a larger paycheck. When a team feels like family, team members won’t want to leave simply because some other employer made them a slightly better offer.
Boost your company culture through regular activities that build relationships. Volunteer together. Sponsor an after-work activity, such as a happy hour, every once in a while.
Take a Stand
Employees and consumers alike want to see companies take a stand on current issues. The challenge for business leaders is to know when, where and how to make a statement.
Look for worthy causes that everyone can get on board with. Nobody is going to object to a food drive. Everyone wants to see communities get access to shelter, education, food and clean water.
Once you’ve identified a worthy cause, pause. Explain not just why you support the cause, but how it relates to your company’s mission and values. Otherwise, people might be suspicious or confused about the nature of your partnership.
What if somebody does get upset? Welcome the discussion. Respectful communication helps teammates and customers better understand one another — and isn’t that what leadership is all about?
Business leadership has never been easy, but 2021 will put your leadership skills to the test. The good news is, you’ve already made it through 2020. Meet the new year’s challenges with grace, and you’ll cue your team to do the same.
This article originally appeared at https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2021/01/03/what-will-business-leadership-look-like-this-year/?sh=7ee19d9b6ae5