Article: 2 Key leadership lessons for the post-pandemic world

Learning & Development

2 Key leadership lessons for the post-pandemic world

How can leaders set an agenda that improves the speed of decision making and enables more productive work? Mark Onisk, the Chief Content Officer of Skillsoft, shared some key insights that they gained from the COVID-19 pandemic, at People Matters L&D 2020 conference.
2 Key leadership lessons for the post-pandemic world

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted two specific needs – to be more digital and more human: Mark Onisk Chief Content Officer, Skillsoft


The year 202 has seen seismic shifts. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world about health and well-being and the business operates. As organizations the world over fight to continue business and growth amidst the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen multiple shifts in the world of work. One key trend is the enhanced use of next-gen technologies to adapt to changing times. Five years of digital transformation were consolidated in a matter of five to six weeks. The use of collaboration tools to enable employees to work from home has also seen a sudden surge among many other things such as flexibility which as experts say will be key to the new normal as we come out of this pandemic.

Overall, the pandemic has highlighted two specific needs – to be more digital and more human, says Mark Onisk Chief Content Officer, Skillsoft, at People Matters L&D 2020 conference. These two trends summarize the challenges we face and the opportunities that lie ahead, Mark argues. Empathy, collaboration, teamwork, and emotional intelligence have never been more important especially in the virtual world we are in today. 

"There is nothing normal about the new normal", says Mark, ‘’and we need a future-fit resilient workforce’’ moving forward. However, creating a resilient workforce warrants a focus on reskilling and upskilling, agility, innovation, and digital leadership. "The need for learning for instance has never been greater and we have seen an increase in content access by 351 percent and consumption of learning hours by 258 percent", says Mark. Similarly, becoming agile and adaptable is equally critical to meet the changing priorities of the market. At the same time, the crisis also worked as a strong driver of creativity and innovation which is a must for organizations to thrive as we come out of this crisis.

Leading the future-fit resilient workforce

For leaders, it’s time to reimagine the way they lead given that empathy, clarity, authenticity, and agility — are much more crucial during this time of upheaval. Leaders have been challenged to ensure seamless connection and a sense of belonging in their teams most of whom are working virtually. As leaders plan to return to work, they have to seize the opportunity to gain new insights developed over the past several months to rethink a post-COVID-19 workplace.

While technology has been a great enabler for businesses during this crisis, the growth in leadership-centric rethinking has accelerated. The new type of skills - based on learner consumption, which Mark termed as ''power skills'', are core skills, human skills, and transformative skills. Core skills include communication, listening skills, time management, etc. while human skills include difficult conversations, resilience and perseverance, work-life balance, and the transformative skills include customer service, leading teams, strategic thinking, and leading in the new normal.

Looking at the skill clusters, Marks says, "The top 25 skills suggest acceleration toward transformational capability ". People are willing to learn courses around teamwork and collaboration to contribute better as a virtual team member and the second is around the core and human skills which include becoming a great listener and trust-building through effective communication, says Mark.

As we move toward the new normal, 89 percent of workers want at least one COVID-19 practice or policy to be adopted permanently, according to a survey they have done. The top trending factors that came out are flexibility (59%) and working from home (58%).

Becoming a more human leader

For leaders, it’s critical to focus on three workforce priorities or worker issues –health and safety, job security, and work-life balance, says Mark. Leadership today is about you, your impact, and your reach. So, how you lead, how you create impact, and how you ensure seamless collaboration will matter more for leaders of tomorrow, he argues.

 While many corporate chief executives are facing their toughest leadership challenge amid the crisis, Mark, says "keeping the journey agile will matter". They need to create an environment where teams collaborate, learn from each other, get feedback, and are focused on continuous learning, all while ensuring a focus on empathy. Leaders also need to focus on themselves in terms of their priorities including their own well-being which will warrant taking time off from constant meetings with the team.

Leaders also need to rebrand disruption in a positive way to enable future growth. Disruption brings with it opportunities, says Mark, and leaders can seize the next moments by leveraging new technologies. Lastly, it’s also crucial at a noisy time like this to celebrate not only victories but also failures. To be able to come out stronger on the other side, businesses need to ensure a constant focus on learning which is more visible than ever in a world that is socially distant and virtualized. "Every person has the potential to be amazing", concludes Mark.

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Topics: Learning & Development, #PMLnD

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