Whether we lead an organisation, a team, a project or a specific activity, the pandemic has thrown us a fair few curveballs during the last 18 months. We’ve relocated (overnight), juggled more balls than ever, Zoom Zoom Zoomed (!) and adapted and pivoted.

As more and more teams head back into the office and enter into a hybrid working world, how do leaders get their heads straight about what happens next? 

With so many of our ways to communicate, connect and collaborate seemingly turned upside down during the pandemic and many questions around what exactly should happen now, there’s still a lot of talk about the need for a total re-think on how we lead as the world of hybrid takes hold.

However, when we look at the leaders (in all walks of life) who have done a brilliant job throughout the last 18 months, they haven’t actually changed their leadership approach at all, regardless of where they have been working from. Granted, their leadership might have been delivered slightly differently but it’s remained entirely focused on the age-old principles of leading others that are also bang up to date and that we can’t see changing anytime soon.

The best leaders won’t change a thing

In all of the work we do to help people to become brilliant leaders who lead naturally, confidently and happily, we focus on eight key ingredients which, together, form a timeless recipe for leading others. Follow these and you are set – for whatever comes next. 


  1. YOU – uniquely you on your A-Game

Any leader can only be a brilliant leader when they understand who they are and how that determines the way they lead. As a leader, what are your superpowers (AKA big strengths)? What are your values and beliefs? Where are you vulnerable and where do you need help? This is the ONLY starting point on any leadership journey and results in authentic leaders who are valued, respected and loved. The pandemic saw many leaders reflect deeply and share more of themselves than ever before – if that sounds like you, don’t leave that more authentic leader behind as we head into hybrid. 


  1. HUMAN – human connection trumps all

The pandemic has led to the biggest blend of personal and professional in history – so many of us have literally taken our work into our front rooms, giving visibility of so much more of our lives and families than ever before. The immediate move to normalise and embrace this from Jacinda Arden on the eve of the first lockdown decision in New Zealand role modelled a human approach superbly. As things evolve, hybrid workforces emerge and we all adapt to more change, human leaders will prevail. 


  1. FELT – feeling first and foremost 

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou). Even the toughest conversations can leave people feeling valued, respected and heard. Leaders who openly share how they feel and demonstrate compassion leave an aura of good feeling. Check out a brilliant pandemic example of this from the Marriott International CEO, Arne Sorenson here. The next few months will no doubt bring tough stuff and new challenges and the leaders who are intentional about the emotional impact they have will soar. 


  1. TUNED – we learn nothing when we’re talking 

Leaders who listen, deeply, are lifelong learners and get things right, so much faster, with the support of the people they serve. One CEO we support created company tribes the minute the pandemic hit for homeschoolers, live-aloners, parents of young adults, gym missers – and more. It resulted in immediate support networks and a way for her to hear the needs and challenges of her people firsthand. That same leader set up similar tribes to hear a diverse range of voices on the company’s future hybrid working strategy. Brilliant leaders tune in.


  1. CHAMELEON – don’t just be one colour and always mix it up

Leaders need to connect with both the left and right-brain, the visual, audio and written learners, the introverts and extraverts, the ‘thinkers’ and the ‘feelers’. If you’re a leader, it’s essential that you mix up how you communicate across a variety of platforms (even those where you feel less comfortable). There’s no one size fits all. Creating communication that has different colours and is accessible to all is also vital. Many leaders have leaned into this during the pandemic – but it has to continue!


  1. RESPONSIVE – everyone has a plan until… 

Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.” (Mike Tyson). Being responsive as a leader is about more than having a plan B, C and D. It’s about responding to the human being, the emotion, the question in front of you. The leaders who are there, visible, available always and who say, “right now, I don’t know, but I’m fighting with every fibre of my being to work it out” have triumphed through the last 18 months  (and always will), whatever happens next. 


  1. CURIOUS – beyond the seen and heard

The definition of curiosity is to be eager to know or learn something. When we demonstrate curiosity with our teams, colleagues or customers – it feels great for them and it unlocks insight we would never get to hear otherwise. We suggest leaders ask at least two totally open questions at the start of every conversation, one-to-one or with the team. Even in the midst of challenge, make space for curiosity – as we enter into unchartered hybrid working territory, it is essential leaders bring this.  


  1. FUN – Jestology™ in all times 

Leaders who laugh and help others to laugh create a culture of openness, learning and fun. Fun is so much more than jokes, it’s activating the power of story-sharing, connecting through celebration, laughing through shared experience. We call it Jestology™ and it’s an essential ingredient in the leadership mix, in good times and in times of challenge. The other critical part of Jestology™ is the role of facilitation, collaboration and honesty in leadership – it’s never been more needed than right now. 


Whether we’re in a pandemic, an economic crisis or a market boom, when these eight ingredients work hand in hand, the magic happens for leaders and those around them. 


Leaders who lead happy™ feel comfortable in their own skin and confident, their teams feel valued and empowered and organisations flourish and fly.


Ge the ball rolling and talk to us about you and your leadership role, we’re all ears.