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Leadership for business beyond the pandemic

Head Shots

Alex Speed

The work we do for you – the clients and partners who bring us challenges, who have such varied needs, and who have had to adapt to such enormous changes through the last two years – often focuses on the term “VUCA”. Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous working environments which challenge your team, the future of your organisation, and the needs of your own clients. Which challenge the very essence of leadership.

Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing…

Never before have we – as people or as business leaders – had to face a challenge as significant as the Covid pandemic.

The impact on our personal lives, our jobs, industry, on the economy, not just here but globally, everyone has been touched by change in so many areas. Over and over again, as we all tried to stay safe and to protect our employees, our customers and the future of our organisations, we have had to adapt the way we work, the way we communicate, the way that we plan for the future.

As leaders we always have to be flexible and adaptable to be successful, and to ensure that the people we are leading can be successful too. The complexity of meeting such a varied range of needs, since people are so varied themselves, means that business leaders need to be introspective, aware and alert to the changing needs of their people, and to simultaneously plan for the future.

Though change has always been part of business planning, none of us could ever have anticipated the speed or volume of changes we have been forced to meet since the beginning of the pandemic. 2020 onwards has meant adapting everything about the way we work, overnight, on a massive scale.

Remote working, virtual meetings, digital communication, online learning, home working balanced beside family needs, the challenges of working and parenting, home educating children as schools closed, cramped desk spaces squeezed into busy homes, customer support linking us in a more direct and personal way as we all tried to keep organisations afloat against the flood of difficulties. An increased need for ‘soft skills’ – for emotional intelligence, empathy, compassion, tolerance and patience, both from and with leaders and their teams.

Adaptability – agility in how we approach leading and learning – gives people the freedom and support to take ownership of their own work.

This autonomy leads to better relationships with your team, and better balance between their work life and their home life.

This better balance means your team are happier, more productive and more proactive - which means that your organisation can thrive.
Alex Speed, MD, ASK Europe

Take a moment to look at your leadership team, and the way in which they used to communicate with their team, and what changes have been made. Consider how things have changed since Covid brought us ‘the new normal’.

Have you adapted well? Has your team maintained good communication and a sense of community with their colleagues?

This has been a steep learning curve for all of us, leaders and employees alike, and we have learned many lessons about flexibility. About the importance of clear communication. Removing people from physical proximity meant that we had to set out processes and ways to share information in real time. So much of workplace communication before the pandemic happened informally: people chit chatting, sharing breaks, speaking across desks – not just in meetings – so those informal opportunities needed to be factored into our day. In an office space people take moments away from their work, build relationships, share stories and just chat. Those relationships are absolutely vital to building happy teams, and to creating a culture where the whole team feel content in their work.

The isolation of lockdowns and furlough significantly impacted people – their wellbeing, their drive, their confidence. Leaders have had to find deliberate ways to support their team and to maintain that cohesion and shared warmth with colleagues when we couldn’t physically share a space.

This takes significant emotional intelligence and strength, as well as a business acumen that can plan for further change: for lasting change. Initially many people believed that things would ‘go back to normal’ – but even the most reluctant have had to accept that this is our normal now – and that to protect our employees and organisations from failing, we have to embrace the change.

What changes did we make?

We have learned to work with a more flexible team, all able to access their work identically whether they are in our offices or remote. New technology and methods of communication were a fantastic investment, to ensure that our clients and partners are supported.

We had to rewrite and rework much of our offering, which had so heavily relied on in-person engagement, changing the presenting of learning and training  from a face to face environment to digital communication and virtual learning, without any reduction in the impact and value of that learning.

I am immensely proud of how effectively the ASK team took on this challenge, and the commitment they showed to our partners and customers, supporting you with no reduction in the immediacy and impact of our offerings.

Looking to our own future, this adaption to the ‘new normal’ has prepared us well for the world we expect to see beyond this pandemic; a world with more flexible working and learning, where teams want to embrace the opportunities to learn in a more flexible, wider reaching way which aligns with the changes in their lives. Rather than limiting what we can offer, it has enhanced the potential impact we can have through the learning programmes we offer.

The development and growth of your team will no longer be limited by geographical locality, by the size of meeting rooms, by the limitations of space or scheduling.

Instead, learning and development programmes can be accessed by larger teams, working from any location, with in-the-moment communication and interaction with their peers, team and trainer. Intelligent, empathetic learning and support, shaped and built around the specific needs of your people.

Alex Speed

We look forward to taking these steps into the future by your side, continuing to support the growth and success of your organisation.

Call us today on 01234 757575 or email hello@askeurope.com to discuss what we can do to help your team to adapt, your leaders to embrace these skills, and your workforce to achieve their full potential in this new world. We can help; just ASK.

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