As businesses return to a new version of normal after the pandemic, leaders will inevitably confront new issues they will need to navigate and learn to address. Below, I explore three types of challenges facing leaders as we adjust to emerging changes to how and where we work.
3 Challenges Facing Leaders and How to Confront Them
CHALLENGE: RENEWING A CUSTOMER-CENTRIC FOCUS
Bad times don’t always breed bad business, and during the pandemic, many businesses have actually thrived. In many cases, customers sought out a business, rather than the business having to seek out its customers. In these instances, the result tended to be a move away from the fundamentals of great customer service as people prioritized product over service. As customers return to their old buying habits and service expectations grow, businesses will need to renew their focus on serving their customers.
Optimally, leaders would have addressed declining service behaviors as they were occurring to ensure those behaviors didn’t become bad habits. But it’s often hard to have the foresight we need when the numbers look good. The key to continuing to maintain relevance in a season when customer attitudes and preferences are changing will be to confront any behavior that is not both values-focused and customer-first.
CHALLENGE: PIVOTING BACK TO OLD MINDSETS
When the pandemic became a serious business challenge in mid-2020, every business was required to rethink how they could operate successfully under new conditions. Innovative leaders looked at the unique situation and asked, “What does this now make possible?” They then pivoted the business to a new way of operating.
As the pandemic settles and business returns, it will be tempting to pivot back to pre-pandemic mindsets and business practices. Leaders will need to confront this kind of thinking and behavior, both in themselves and in their teams. The pandemic has been bad enough on its own; not learning from it would make it even worse.
CHALLENGE: BALANCING EMPLOYEE AND BUSINESS NEEDS
The pandemic also forced businesses to rethink how and where we work. Workers were forced to find new ways of working away from the office and each other. In a post-pandemic world, leaders will need to confront the urge to have everyone rush back to the office. Of course, requiring everyone to return to in-person work may be the right move for some business models, but certainly not for all.
Instead, leaders will need to balance the needs of their people with the needs of the business to find the right approach to work. Again, we will need to reflect on what we learned during the past couple of years to not only grow our people, but also our business. Discovering new and better ways to approach where and how we work are often biproducts of challenging times, and leaders would be remiss in not viewing this time as a growth opportunity.
THE GOAL: TO CONFRONT CHALLENGES WITHOUT CONFRONTATION
As we continue to adjust to new and emerging norms in the workplace, leaders will need to confront a multitude of challenges, including faulty thinking, behavior that doesn’t align with values, or poor performance. But the key to leading well during this time will be confronting these challenges without damaging the relationships with the people we lead.
Leaders will need to remember that confronting a challenge doesn’t mean we must be confrontational. To confront is to stand up or speak up about a condition or situation. To be confrontational is to move beyond the situation or condition and make it about the person involved. The leadership development goal in confronting our challenges is to avoid becoming confrontational, protecting the connection regardless of the content.
About Perry Holley
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership, as well as a published author. As co-host of the Maxwell Leadership Executive Leadership Podcast, he has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.
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