Expanding the Horizon of Functional Leadership: How the Pandemic Transformed the Whip Wielders?

Functional leadership techniques evolved during the pandemic era, and now with the Great Resignation phenomenon in full-swing, a lot is expected from these leaders.

Leadership has always been a concept, to be read and understood from the honchos. In most of the business organizations, exercising control on human resources was thought to be a part and parcel of management. Therefore, leaders were more of doers resonating within the workplace community. Flexibility was more than an option as leaders had to multitask in order to manage team performance. Post the outbreak of the pandemic however, managing hybrid work models has become a practice with business leaders. On the other hand, managers had to operate in an increasingly complicated digital landscape forcing them to become a strategic thinker. Decision making was a key criteria to define role clarity and the contemporary managers had to focus on considerations related to environment, social perspectives and governance.  At the same time, managers had a major responsibility to maximize organization profits. 

What is Functional Leadership?

Functional leadership theories date back to the 1960s when leaders were expected to not just lead their groups but also enhance the effectiveness of the group by setting an example by virtue of different behavioral traits. Functional leadership styles draw their uniqueness from “nurture” side of management, rather than following the innate “nature.” This means leaders in functional roles can be trained to be effective as well as enduring in their roles within an organization.

Functional leadership can be targeted at different levels of workforce, such as industry, organization, department, team, or an individual follower or followers. Based on the size of the team or group of followers, a functional leader may develop a multi-level, multi-dimensional approach to effective leadership and relationship management, often referred to as employee experience management (EXM) at the human level. During the pandemic, organizations that nurtured functional leadership managed to steer past the challenges that emerged from remote working and offline communication. Let’s understand how this worked in the pandemic and if functional leadership is really useful in the post-COVID workplace.

Leadership Transformation Techniques: Role of the Pandemic

Immediately, after the lock-down was declared, in March 2020, business leaders were under tremendous stress keeping in view stringent target-oriented performance.

So, what were the major aspects related to being a successful leader?

Information management and data exchange have emerged as crucial aspects in Leadership Management. 

At the same time, it was crucial for leaders to give a proper direction to changing business models. Human resource managers emphasized on building up a contingent workforce while  addressing a flexible approach to improve performance. In the given context, Brian Kropp (Kropp) the VP of Gartner an information research and consulting firm from USA had acknowledged, “It’s  critical for business leaders to understand that large-scale shifts are changing how people work and how business gets done,” He continued further by stating that, “Leaders who respond effectively to these HR trends can ensure their organizations stand out from competitors.”

Evolution of critical job roles has been observed in the global market and USA was considered a major market harnessing the trend. Looking at personal and professional engagements of employees, the need for creating a work life balance during pandemic has urged the strategic leaders to build up a platform of coherence. Technology was no longer a misnomer in operational context while adoption of technology was focused in organizations to build up performance in the post-COVID era. Having said that, let’s take a closer look at some evolving trends in the market of global leadership management.

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Mess & Stress: The journey of global leaders

Strategic leaders actually managed a lot of stress, and this was a global trend. Control management techniques were not implemented during the pandemic, which forced the leaders to hone creativity within the workspace. A report from Gartner revealed that more than sixty percent of the global leaders in the US emerged as toppers in igniting new business ideas!

Domain expertise was the pillar of strength for the Strategic Leaders

“Credibility is a combination of expertise and dependability.” And that is how it was. Separating critical skills and defining and redefining contemporary job roles has been a major challenge.  Such a challenge was experienced by a majority of strategic leaders in a global context. Human resource experts acknowledged that there were no shortcuts whatsoever and leaders had no other option that to adapt to their new incarnations. 

Were Empathetic Leaders born?

Well, that was what had created the managers and leaders of tomorrow! COVID-19 taught us to acknowledge and accept the truth easily. Thus, transformation of leadership personalities affected all organizations through improvising a cultural shift. Defining better business outcomes were a part of the leadership journey and technology engagement of leaders to foster engagement were applauded all across the global markets!  

Surpassing Negativities: How Strategic leaders took the challenge?

During difficult times, surpassing negativity was a major challenge. However, HR experts stated that strategic leaders in performing organizations could actually do this and get rewarded. New businesses have since  emerged, expanding human capabilities through remote engagements. Markets were penetrated at ease, while brands had won tough wars in a ‘Titanic’ environment.

Establishing a reliable routine for communication

Daily briefings became a regular regimen for the managers from the US.

Engagements were created to harness personal growth besides thought clarity was understood to be a human-driven approach. Simultaneously, assuming stress without any reason was never encouraged by contemporary leaders. On the other hand, a collaborative network was built during the COVID era to share operational inputs to build up performance. Accommodating stressful situations and being empathetic was a major trend which leaders were forced to practice despite operating in an uncertain business environment.

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Allowing employees to gel

Designing open forums to create sustainable communication channels was something that was learnt by the leaders during pandemic. Mobile applications were brought into play to spark connectivity within a virtual ecosystem. Suggestions were not only taken, strategic leaders ensured a thorough implementation within a time framework to enable complete employee convenience!

Reflecting desirable behaviors on a larger scale

This was one of the major changes brought in by the strategic leaders to remain flexible during the pandemic era. Behavioral and psychological changes were much influenced during the pandemic affecting the growth of strategic leaders while the younger leaders responded well. 

Have our perception about leaders changed post-pandemic?

A million-dollar question asked by the inquisitive audience. Post pandemic, a strategic change had been brought in within a global context wherein leaders have emerged as first generation entrepreneurs in many cases! From managing to deploying employees a paradigm shift is brought in which had largely affected the work patterns and business delivery outcomes globally! The pandemic ushered in a new growth era wherein a role exchange had happened for the better! Thus, managers were reborn, leaders reoriented and entrepreneurs were incubated on a mass scale post the pandemic. outbreak!

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