Eight proven leadership lessons, four crucial behaviors, and one respected CEO; what else do you need to prove the value of strategic leadership? Cue a global crisis. From the lockdown to “the new normal,” leadership decisions impact how you work today. And how executive leaders make and communicate decisions leaves a lasting impression on you.
In this post, we share what technology Executives learned about leading through a pandemic from a veteran CEO. Most importantly, you’ll learn the proven leadership lessons you can share with your team or use to be a more effective leader.
What is the Most-Asked Question About Post-Lockdown Leadership?
IT executives from SIM San Diego collaborated virtually to discuss proven leadership lessons from their lockdown experiences. CIOs and other technology leaders shared ideas, concerns, and questions about work and people. Meanwhile, one crucial question echoed throughout each Zoom breakout session: Do people want to come back to the office?
According to company surveys, the technology leaders reported that most people want to work remotely, while the remainder prefers a hybrid schedule. One participant asked the group, “what causes people to embrace remote work?” Responses included the new demands of childcare, the ability to perform work from anywhere, commuting distance, income, etc.
Some participants nodded their heads in agreement, while others questioned their counterpart’s rationale for why remote work is essential to employees. And although the members pledged to monitor and report back with progress on return-to-work plans, their perspectives reflect different leadership styles, symbolic of their company’s culture.
Proven Leadership Lessons from a Veteran CEO
The most successful companies attract, hire, and retain employees who don’t want to leave, and they remain focused, engaged, and fulfilled for years. But companies don’t create this environment overnight. Years of strategic leadership create a positive, people-first culture.
The WD-40 Company knows a thing or two about culture and leadership. The company’s Chairman and CEO Garry Ridge is publicly recognized for building effective teams and inspiring people to become leaders. He wrote the book The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade, in which he explains how to create amazing outcomes with purpose-driven leadership.
The Chairman and CEO shared the book’s eight essential leadership lessons with the group of executives, but not before revealing a crucial component for return-to-work plans in the future: having options is part of creating a loyal, happy, and productive team.
Four crucial behaviors of effective leadership
The WD-40 company’s success is tied to effective leadership. Leaders worldwide learn from the Chairman and CEO’s tenure because his success over the past thirty-three years follows a simple equation:
People, purpose, and passion (culture) + products (strategy and planning) = thriving company.
The company’s leaders believe that positive culture, in addition to strategy and planning, create freedom for employees. Essentially, autonomy and choice, rather than restricting people to act a certain way, lead to more learning moments inside the organization.
Before we reveal the eight proven leadership lessons, we must share four values that foster leadership behavior. However, these behaviors must be practiced consistently for years to build a foundation for effective leadership:
- Care — empathy overrides ego
- Candor — reduce fear and create safe environments
- Accountability — set clear expectations
- Responsibility — show people how they can be responsible
Eight proven leadership lessons from a trusted CEO
The WD-40 Company refers to leaders as coaches, not bosses. Garry’s teachings state that long-term success hinges on servant leadership; coaches help people win the prize, which is to meet or exceed goals while maximizing happiness. “Happy people create happy companies, he said with a smile.”
So, in the wake of a worldwide lockdown and workplace transformation, how can you be a more effective leader? Use these eight lessons:
- Don’t try to control things beyond your reach. With so much uncertainty, you must focus on the direction you want to go
- Let empathy lead the way
- Keep grounded and be calm
- Resist the temptation to micromanage
- Use your vision to rise above fear
- Be clear about the intent
- Practice pragmatic optimism
- Lead with gratitude
You can’t overstate the significance of these proven leadership lessons. Practiced together, they offer a rewarding future for people and teams across every industry.
Leadership in the Post-Lockdown Workplace
The virtual gathering of technology executives presented new ideas for current and future leaders. But one question remained unanswered: Will people come back to the office or work remote after the lockdown?
The message of uncertainty with openness towards the future was made clear by all. Every company represented in the virtual meeting shifted to remote work during the pandemic, but long-term plans remain in the hands of leaders who have a decision to make: do we ask our people or decide for them?
Companywide surveys predict a more permanent acceptance of working from home; however, experienced leaders believe a hybrid option is most effective long-term. In your company, the verdict should reflect values and culture. Fortunately, regardless of the format, strict in-office policies are a thing of the past.
So, remember that people want to feel human at work. Give them the power to choose where they want to do their best work.
Don’t Leave Without Reading This Message
The lockdown illuminated the people-first mindset (i.e., prioritizing the safety and happiness of employees). Moving forward, leaders must use the lessons learned above to empower people to choose what’s best, not the other way around.
Your first order of business is to accept that times have changed. Less than one year ago, we couldn’t predict this conversation. But if you wish to be an effective leader and form a respected leadership team, you must re-evaluate your company values. Only then can you decide what the future holds for your people, your tribe.