Leadership skills will always be in demand, but perhaps even more so after a year marked by confusion, fear, and change.
As we enter 2021, you might already be looking ahead to how you can hone the right leadership skills to lead your team through future crises.
“Most people think leadership comes with strong characteristics—the assumption is you need to be a super-person, but sometimes we forget leadership is also a process.” reflects Dimitrios Spyridonidis, associate professor at Warwick Business School.
He admits that “2021 will be all about recovering from the crisis.” To do this, MBAs will have to channel a slightly different set of skills in their leadership roles, in order to make sense of the "disruption, prolonged pressure, and a rapidly changing work environment” in the coming months and years, he says.
Helped by Dimitrios’ insights, we’ve identified five of the most important leadership qualities you’ll need in 2021 to successfully navigate out of the crisis.
“Leaders must be more visible during periods of crisis,” Dimitrios asserts. Whether you’re leading a small team or are the CEO of an international corporation, your leadership should be visible even when you're not.
Though it’s impossible to be visible at all times—though the wonders of Zoom and Slack can help with that—Dimitrios says “having a strong purpose can help you be visible.”
On the Distance Learning MBA at Warwick, students are led through a personal transformation, working to understand their own identity and purpose, building confidence in the process.
“We provide a safe environment to challenge how they think about who they are,” Dimitrios explains, “and vocabulary to think about how to do things differently.”
2. Emotional Intelligence
A crucial leadership skill at all times, emotional intelligence becomes even more important after a crisis.
“What you need to consider is that people are dealing with extreme fear,” Dimitrios remarks. “Fear really impacts the leader, and to a lesser extent, the team.”
Emotional intelligence is needed if leaders are to understand their teammates, and help them through such challenging times.
In order to develop his students’ emotional intelligence, Dimitrios makes sure to emphasize the importance of “[understanding] where people are coming from.
“We make them mindful that they need to practice in a multi-disciplinary, diverse environment,” he adds.
To help MBAs gather feedback on their leadership style, Dimitrios asks them to record themselves when they are giving a talk or they’re in a meeting, and use the video to evaluate themselves.
“It gives you really honest feedback, and the ability to see how you come across in the eyes and ears of your audience,” he notes.
3. The Ability to ‘Zoom In and Out’
This one’s got nothing to do with the video conferencing tool—something else we’ve all been getting to grips with. Instead, Dimitrios emphasizes the importance of being able to see things from varying points of view.
“Leaders need to switch their mindset regularly to deal with paradoxical tensions,” he explains. “Although they need to take care of individuals—themselves—they also need to switch their mindsets to the broader co-dependencies that their organizations have.”
This interdependency is increasingly stark, with uncontrollable forces influencing businesses around the world. If you can’t combine big-picture thinking with meeting the needs of your team, you won’t be best placed to lead in a crisis.
Dimitrios summarises this paradox: “You obviously need to be aware of the nature of a team—but we shouldn’t forget the role of increasingly interconnected economies.”
4. Fact based decision-making
We all saw the consequences of the rapid spread of misinformation last year, whether from social media or major global leaders.
Dimitrios sees a growing interest in leaders being able to “lead with wisdom” in the aftermath of a year fraught with falsities and misinformation.
“There is a lot of noise out there right now from the media and others, and of course there is a lot of fear about the coronavirus,” he admits. “I think we need our leaders to lead with facts and not fear.
“Try to educate yourself as much as possible, but also try to engage with your team and encourage inclusivity,” he suggests.
5. Leading the Self
The most important leadership skill of all, Dimitrios argues, is the ability to “lead the self.” To do this, leaders must ensure they “take care of themselves emotionally and physically,” he says.
The growing impact of the crisis on mental health is becoming more apparent. Whether you’re suffering from anxiety, are feeling the loneliness of working from home, or just miss your old life, these are all issues that leaders should be aware of before they can tackle managing others.
“The concept of leading the self is paramount,” he asserts. “I think the impact on mental health as a result of recovering from crisis is enormous on leaders.
“To be an effective leader, you must be aware of your own needs, as well as those of the people that you lead.”
Warwick Business School
BSc Management with Marketing
I loved Warwick business school. The staff is supportive, my academic tutor was key in my development throughout the 3 years and you have to meet with her/him every term. Most professors are helpful and would happily offer support if needed. You also have office hours and can contact professors by email and through the forum. In general, WBS instills in you the willingness to learn and the resilience needed for you for whatever career you choose. Very international community which broadens your horizon and makes you more open minded and self aware. You will most certainly make friends and memories for life. I recommend that you get outside of your comfort zone and try new activities with your friends! WBS also has a great reputation and offers careers opportunities, and careers support throughout the degree. There is the opportunity to do a year abroad to further develop on a personal level. I wasn’t able to do this due to Covid but I would have loved to do it during normal circumstances! Would definitely recommend this. Although Warwick is not a city university, the campus vibe has a lot of advantages, especially at an undergraduate level. You are always around familiar faces, and in a student environment. Moreover, Birmingham is only 20 mins away from Leamington spa and London is only one hour away! Perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway!
Life at Warwick Business School
Pursuing my master's degree at WBS has been a game-changer in my life. With high-quality education, interaction with students from across the world, amazing campus life and much more. I was able to learn about business, finance, project management and strategy all in one course: MSc in Management at WBS. Besides the top-notch education from the best professors, I also enjoyed being a part of fun societies and participating in fun activities such as scavenger hunts and so much more. The school also organises many company visits and interactions which help students get a head start at finding a job. As my course came to an end, I also have a good full-time job placement in my hands. Overall, my experience at WBS was a great one.
The Warwick Business School was like a dream come to life for me. The University ranking speaks for itself, from top-tier facilities to some of the best professors I had to honour to study with I fell in love with my course. Interactions with people from all over the world gave me a newfound confidence in myself. Career prospects after graduating are endless due to the contacts of the universities and the success rate for previous students, it does open a lot of doors for students in various career fields. The campus life is quite good as well with a lot of student groups and clubs, and extra circular activities to engage students at all times. Loved my experience.
A good business school
It is a very cutting-edge, career-oriented business school, all courses are very practical, and the college does a very good job of career service. From the hardware and facilities to the staff, the student experience is at the core of the school and student satisfaction is taken very seriously. I understand that many universities in the UK are relatively traditional and can occasionally be rigid in terms of rules and regulations, and although WBS has a relatively short history, this makes it more innovative and dynamic, which is essential for a business school. The downside is that because it is on the outskirts of Coventry, it is a long bus ride to the city centre, not to mention the difference in experience from a big city like London.
The people, campus, staff. It’s a very enjoyable environment and it’s particularly good for learning and playing sports. The people there are extremely friendly and welcoming and it’s very easy to make friends
What I Like About Warwick
I’ve personally liked my experience at Warwick so far because of the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet and how many opportunities we students are provided with to learn and grow. Within Warwick, I’m part of the Business School, a learning haven comprised of well-structured modules and extremely helpful people All in all, a great place to be :)
One thing that stood out for me was the campus life, you felt like part of a community. The social aspects of the student union and on-campus accommodation meant you can easily get together and enjoy with friends. Additionally, I felt the course provided a variety of subjects allowing me to enhance my knowledge, from Marketing to Law and Finance. Overall I would most definitely recommend this university to friends and family.
Excellence self catered
The campus is very welcoming and Modern. There are many opportunities at Warwick but it is up to the student how do they want to make the most out of it and the staff at the school will definitely helo as much as possible. The location and the ranking have been amazing.
Warwick business school
Warwick business school is one of the best universities around the globe with a solid base of economic and business studies. Moreover, students get a chance to study in a diverse and warm environment with professional stuff which tries to provide the best opportunities for career development. One of the memorable features of the university are great events which sometimes take a place in one of the landmarks of the London city, the Shard building.