Most of the population are tired of “covid” and its implications to everybody´s private and professional life. Every day new and highest “covid infection scores” – even in Germany, the European country with supposedly one of the most stable healthcare systems across Europe. Every day overflooding online-covid & media-cascades 24/7 – with ever-highest covid numbers departing from smaller and less-impacting health-impacts, but massively overburdened PCR-test-capabilities and bed & intense-care places in hospitals impacts in Q1 2022. It is clear to everybody, that people do know many people with covid-infection with their employers, family or friends nowadays – with highly differing health-impacts. On aggregated level, Germany ranks lately on place #42 out of 53 countries in the monthly covid resilience ranking of Bloomberg.
Bottom-line – people and company leadership teams in Germany fully understood that covid will:
- not go away one day, but will repetitively become part of our day-to-day life for many years
- seriously impact the future business world with tremendous drive new challenges and bring sustainable & digitized trends with less F2F-people-interactions
- merge together business and private life into a “hybrid-way”, most likely with completely new tasks or massively re-mixed priorities around changed centers of biz-gravity.
Based on Germany´s strong economy, covid does not bring a straight impact for the “New Work-Life 4.0” (feel free to choose any better wording), at least not in a highly universal mega-trend today. Sure, there are massive changes as many employers offered home-office work to the managers/employees – where office-presence was set as implied MUST for decades. According to German BMWI-reports, more than 55% (equals 22+ million people) of the working population are actually working partially from home or completely remote. This scenario means doubling the home-office rate of employees in 2 years timeframe! New Work means mobile/digital/hybrid working as “new employment lingo” – replacing old-school “home-office” wording, legally defined in Germany in 1951.
Company Culture in 2021
Interesting enough, we experience highly differing company cultures in 2021 including their related leadership & learning impacts:
- performance companies, who did their covid-homework on commercial strategy & leadership principles and found a new way of established working processes, trusted leadership principles and new competence learnings
- intermediate companies, who are “half-way” between old and new world and will need some time (years?) to embrace the new biz-challenges and transform their work & leadership processes into a new authentic company culture
- underdog companies, who did not find a convincing recipe to cope with the new biz- and leadership challenges. Typically, their employer productivity fell apart from former standards or biz-models were heavily covid-infected and could not be transported into the new post-covid world
- entirely new start-ups or intended spin-offs, where new biz-models and an inspiring and agile company & leadership culture is inherent part of the trusted team working place – onsite or remote or mobile working.
In our perception this simplified clustering counts for small, medium-sized or large enterprises in a similar way. Covid and the transformed company & leadership-style supposed to have a significant change-impact on self-characterizations of employer-brandings & employer-rankings, compared to “live and remote” perceptions of external observers. It will be interesting and highly visible to obsess and support competence-learnings and fundamental leadership-culture changes within companies during next years.
Based on the massive home-office waive in Germany and the comprehensive covid-impacts and broad leadership learnings at our clients in 2020/2021, we do believe that structural organization performance will have much less impact on any future organizational development, in comparison to behavioral leadership-competences. Following the “new” work-habits and leadership-learnings, we predict the modified post-covid leadership traits from today´s point of view:
- Most significant drivers of improved organization-performance and new work-habits are the resilient Leaders of any company! They are making “the difference” and are fostering future organization-performance by applying their new, authentic and trusted leadership-competences every day.
- Leaders became effectively “remote- or virtual-leaders” during covid-times. Means over night: less of face-to-face-meetings and more of individual human touch points & uncertainty have to be handled in teams/organizations appropriately. The empathetic, pragmatic and authentic leadership effectiveness and style of any Leader became mission-critical for every employer productivity during challenging times. Leadership skills could be trained, especially during covid-times.
- Virtual leadership is providing agile flexibility, personal leeway and fosters employee´s accountability on a highly individualized and varied base. Employees working results are driven by new competencies and dynamic activities & results of employees. Non-performing Managers or employees are more difficult to develop their skills or turn-around their work-results in shortened time-frames. Strict control & follow-up are needed to succeed.
- The trusted and realistic Leader provides flexible working models, appropriate IT-tools, differing agility-levels and enhanced responsibilities by individual employee – but fosters a trusted teamwork-environment by clear communication, targets, valuing virtual conferencing and following-up of robust working results and handling Q&A´s before turning into real-life issues.
- Trusted Company Leaders or Owners in productive working environments will like the self-learning organization, the opportunities of fine-tuned & post-covid org-structure developments, the improved level of bottom-up & top-down communication, the initiation of new change projects and the leadership effectiveness of the “new normal” organization and its performance. Natural limitations of virtual leadership will become more apparent in virtual integration of new Leaders & employees, staff confusion at non-effective communication, proper handling of ethical work differences or how to manage “big” cultural or organization-changes in short time frames.
This all may sound familiar to you, your company or country? This reality-based write-up focused on the biz-challenges of these covid-days, the change-impacts to current organizations in Germany and ventured an outlook into more effective, further virtual and post-covid leadership traits.
Thanks for your time to read. Your feedback or opinion would be highly welcome.
Article written by Marc Steuer, CFR Consulting Group, Germany
Photo source: Pexels