Leadership in 2020 and beyond

With the year 2020 unrolling, some of us are still trying to pick up the pace and get back into the tempo, post the year-end lull, while there are others who have already plunged into the work-battle. Wherever you are, amidst the deadlines, New Year targets, or new fiscal year planning, it is time to take a pit stop and think about how you can be a better leader in 2020.

You must be wondering what has changed in 2020 that you need to pause and think about in leadership. It’s just a change in the year – the office, the work profile, the team, the daily routine- all of it remains the same.

While it might look the same on the face, there is much more to it. We are a young country where majority of population is of Millennials and Gen Z. With Gen Z entering the workforce and Millennials taking up leadership roles, the idea of leadership has evolved. The ‘alpha leader’ image is obsolete and has given way to the new age leadership that believes in building a collaborative team aligned to a common goal. As a leader, one needs to constantly unlearn and relearn. What worked in a smaller team of 10 people might not work for a bigger team of 25 people and vice-versa. You need stronger strategy to handle your team, more skill additions, and vaster responsibilities. 

Let’s look ahead and see what leadership will mean in 2020!

  •  Communicate and communicate well: The most important skill set of a good leader in this new era is– ‘communicating well’. A successful leader is someone who can communicate and connect well with the team. As a leader, it is imperative to have good communication skills and keep the team well aligned to the overall mission/goals. Millennials and Gen Z work better and more passionately if they feel ‘the connect’ with the business at large. A leader should motivate his team members by telling them how their day-to-day efforts are important in the bigger scheme of things.

A successful leader should also be able to communicate instructions for a specific task clearly and efficiently, with clear deadlines. This will help improve productivity and help complete projects quickly and efficiently.

Communication should be consistent and ongoing. It is advisable to catch up with your team, atleast once in a week. These forums should be used not only to share information or give feedback to the team members, but also to listen to the team members and help them resolve their issues.

  •  Trust and transparency are the key: ‘Trust’ is a virtue that is extremely important in relationships. Today’s leaders believe in building strong relationships with their partners, stakeholders and team members. They believe in the idea of building a team as a cohesive unit that can support each other, as the situation demands. This trait comes in handy when teams work under high pressure situations or on critical projects. A team with members who trust each other tends to be more positive in its approach. This, in turn, results in higher productivity and lower attrition rate.

An integral step for building trust is being transparent with your employees and team members. It is important to be upfront about your expectations and give honest feedback. A leader of 2020 is the one who believes in being transparent with his/her team to ensure he builds a team culture of honesty and trust.

A successful leader will encourage the team members to respect and support each other, irrespective of their years of experience and background. He/she will lead by example and walk the talk. Today’s leader believes in being transparent with even the youngest member of his team. He/she encourages his team members to listen to their ideas, recognise their opinions and be respectful of it at the same time. This will encourage a positive working environment and help employees to feel comfortable under the leadership. 

Transparency and respect will result in a stronger trust within the team, as employees will see you as a fair leader- one, who is open to new ideas, encourages the team to take risks and supports them in failures. This will help improve productivity and stimulate creativity and collaboration.  

The leaders should remember that trust can be won or lost every day at any instance. As a leader, one needs to continue to put efforts in inculcating a culture of ‘trust’ within the team. 

  •  Manage change well:  We live in times of uncertainty, with the business models undergoing a change, world markets fluctuating, and businesses feeling the heat of automation. To be a good leader in 2020 and beyond, it is important to be good change managers. The leaders of today should be able to handle change and guide their team members through uncertain times. They need to be well tuned mentally to manage change and also guide their team to work well through change.

This skill set becomes even more important in start-ups that tend to pivot their business models or undergo restructuring, as the business demands. Today’s leader should be able to communicate the bigger picture to the team and work closely with them to ensure that they are well-aligned to the new business objectives.

  •  Do not be impulsive and manage your moods well: You might be facing a tough day at work, but it is important as a leader to conduct yourself well in front of your team. As a leader, you are being watched and looked upto.. Hence, it is important to not let your moods reflect in your conversations with your team. Today’s leader makes it a point to not let his/her bad mood rub off on his/her team. Step out, grab a cup of coffee or take a walk alone to calm down your  nerves. A leader in 2020 cannot be successful if he/she tries to ‘boss’ or ‘bully’ around.
  •  Be open to learning: The era of the ‘leader knows it all’ is very yesterday’s. Today’s leader should be open to enhancing his/her skill set by learning new tools, new trends and new technologies. A good leader does not have any qualms in accepting that he/she has limited knowledge on certain subjects and encourages a subject matter expert to help them enhance these skills.
  •  Micro-management and processes can be roadblocks: It is good to have processes to keep a track of the success metrics, but leaders should remember that micro-management and long processes are major roadblocks. They create a culture of mistrust (as the team believes the leader does not trust him/her) and tend to lower the team’s commitment. Micro managers are a big no-no for Millennials and Gen Z. Also, creating too many processes and multiple layers of reporting is not taken in good spirit as today’s workforce believes that this only wastes their productive time. A good leader should create clear milestones and do regular meetings to map progress.  .

To conclude, it will never be a ‘one size does not fit all’. A leader may have to follow different approach roads for different team members, so as to ensure that the team’s productivity is high. A successful leader is the one who can evolve and adjust, to ensure that he builds a strong and cohesive team. To be a successful leader in 2020, it is important to listen and understand the team’s requirements. Also, the team should feel important and valued, at all times. Build a team that is positive, committed, hard-working and respectful of individuals. Creating a team where trust, creativity and respect are paramount is the key to successful leadership and to a successful business.

Akanksha Jain
Akanksha is AVP and Head - Marketing Communications and Public Relations at Pine Labs.

She has over 14 years of experience in working across global/ digital public relations, corporate and brand communications, crisis communications, brand and market communications domains. In the past, Akanksha has successfully planned and executed public relations/brands campaigns across India and over 25 other countries. She is a start-up specialist and has extensive experience of working with emerging brands.

Akanksha is an avid traveller, a cricket lover and a tech enthusiast. She enjoys reading about a range of diverse topics, and listening to music, in her free time.

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