Thought Leadership

Managing for a changed future: 4 signs of outstanding leaders

If it’s one thing that COVID-19 has laid bare, it’s the importance of outstanding leadership in steering a company – or country – through a crisis. As great leaders are key to catalyzing transformation and delivering growth, in challenging times, it is even more important for them to have a clear and compelling vision of the future.

So, what makes a great leader stand out amidst such uncertain times? Here are four traits of outstanding leaders, uncovered through a recent panel discussion at IPMA Global Best Practice Week 2020 which featured our own Jon Wylie, President of Global Natural Resources.

They actively engage people

“Personal leadership is a choice to put the needs of others ahead of your own comfort,” says Greg Githens, a consultant and executive leadership coach and author of How to Think Strategically. “Leadership is simply a choice. Anybody can make the choice to step into the leadership zone.”

Jon Wylie, President of Global Natural Resources at Proudfoot, agrees that it’s not about who you are, but who you inspire that makes you a great leader. “To a certain extent, leadership is less around giving direction and more around exerting influence to create alignment and generate outcomes,” he shares. “In the coming years, the next decade’s work is going revolve around the question: “How do we maintain the technical side while engaging the human side within the organization?”

They invest in the right tools

With most of the world shifting to remote work and an elastic workforce, engaging and managing dispersed teams can be a particular challenge for leaders in a changed future. Luckily, technology can help. “There is an opportunity now to use remote and virtual management methods and digital solutions,” says Jon. “Investing in outstanding leadership capabilities and skills is something you should absolutely do now, as well as looking at how to use digital technology and remote management tools to improve communication and increase alignment.”

They embrace diversity

Especially when it comes to stakeholder engagement, outstanding leaders will need to be able to see things from multiple perspectives and through an empathy lens. “We need to be appreciative of the value of diversity and welcome how much we can learn from people who are from different cultures or different genders, or are decades younger than ourselves,” emphasizes Greg.

Jesus Martinez Almela, President of IPMA South America, agrees. “Leadership is about creating an environment where organizational change can create engagement and impact at a personal level,” he says. “We need to take a more cultural approach [to leadership] moving forward.”

They bounce forward

In a rapidly evolving market landscape, it’s important for outstanding leaders to keep in mind the bigger picture, prioritizing purpose and delivering outcomes rather than projects. And as the situation continues to stay mercurial in the near future, a successful leader is one who is able to “embrace the ambiguity and step into the leadership zone,” shares Greg. “We don’t want to bounce back to the way things were before,” he says. “We want to bounce forward.”

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