If 2020 had a catchphrase, it would be hope for the best, prepare for the worst. For the first time in history, people worldwide were experiencing something unprecedented together with no foreseeable end in sight. The result was almost as impressive as it was frightening. Unemployment rates rose, and businesses faced a complete strategic overhaul, including some temporary closures. Industries of every sector were disrupted, leading to a need for new leadership methodologies. With mass vaccination rollouts, businesses are rethinking their future goals, including how they will handle leadership in this new world.
A company’s bench strength is a term that applies to the talent waiting in the wings, ready to step in. The strength of a company’s leadership bench is a good indicator of how well prepared they are for future scenarios, whatever they may be. This number has been in decline in recent years and was one of many industry disruptions of 2020. Only 11% of human resources (HR) reported a strong leadership bench last year. Looking ahead, one of the trends in filling those spots will be in the way they look for talent. Companies will look to diversify their searches by broadening their search rather than just diving deeper down a single chain of command.
Another trend to watch for in 2021 will focus on subordinates and how they respond to remote leadership. It might be a while before knowledge workers report back to work in person, and the way they feel about their office culture will greatly influence employment considerations. While many CEOs turned up the power on competing and innovation, they were significantly behind in skills that required demonstrating empathy and flexibility for home employees. In addition to not knowing the extent of the danger, many homes simultaneously became home offices and schools, disrupting peoples’ daily activities and routines.
Uncertainty fuels a desire for knowledge and control. For leaders to feel comfortable in their new roles post-COVID, they will need the support of their organization behind them, including zoom meeting training, employee check-ins, and educational programs. There has been a significant increase in leaders searching for ways to further their learning, either by participating in virtual classrooms or the traditional method.