By Adrián Blanco - Socio
February 2022

The pandemic spawned a new style of leadership: ¿Myth or Reality?

Since the end of March 2020, the world of work dramatically accelerated those changes that could be glimpsed in a horizon of ten years. The cause was a pandemic that transformed the vast majority of us into remote workers, appealing to the available technology to cushion as much as possible that cultural change that implied giving up face-to-face work.

Suddenly we became users or specialists of video conferencing products trying to transform everything we could from our work and even personal agenda into something digital or remote.

After some time in this new environment, we began to become familiar with terms such as "Great Renunciation", which in the United States is making millions of workers rethink the way they face their lives, "Digital Nomads", a global phenomenon for which no matter the place where one works physically, in such a way that my employer can be anywhere in the world, or "Hybrid Work", whose main characteristic is limited physical presence.

And there has also been talk of the new style of leadership emerging from this new reality. It has been written, for example, that the remote environment "kills" the charismatic and extroverted leader, the typical outgoing, egocentric who seems to have been successful in face-to-face environments, giving rise to new and different leaders who are much closer, humble, who know how to listen to people's problems, who are process facilitators. And that they have new skills such as adaptability, agility, knowing how to learn and unlearn quickly, empathy, lateral gaze, and a high profile of collaboration.

At this point it seems convenient to refresh some concepts, such as, for example, who we consider a leader: that person who is presented to us as an example to follow, a mirror in which one sees oneself reflected, whom he admires, and whom we would like to be like us in some or many aspects of their leadership and personality. This occurs in any type of environment, whether face-to-face or remote, so it is not true that the leaders recognized by their people are the popular ones, egocentrics.

Let's not get confused: an organization can make a mistake in appointing a leader, either because the upper hierarchy likes him or he does his duties well upwards, but that person does not become a good leader by appointment alone. Personally, I do not remember any worker (when the work environment was still 100% face-to-face) who recognized their leader as an extroverted outgoing. Respected leaders ALWAYS had almost the same competencies and personal characteristics that are required today.

And of course it is very good for a leader to have charisma, added to all the skills considered new, but which have always been present in true leaders. More than a new style of leadership, what is observed is a much more marked emphasis on those skills that good business leaders have had for decades: close, listeners to problems, facilitators, agile, collaborators, etc. Perhaps the new great competence to develop is the ability to learn and unlearn quickly, motivated by continuous change. That is, agility to learn and unlearn.

We can conclude that it is not true that the new reality has brought new and unknown skills that leaders must develop. Good leaders have always had and appealed to almost the same. There is little new under the sun in this regard. The challenge today is to strengthen and nurture the same good skills as always.

Adrián Blanco


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