The Coronavirus Effect: Leadership in a Volatile World

Explore the right kind of leadership in a volatile world.

Lois dedicated herself to her patients. Her patients loved her, and she loved her patients too. She was a Head Nurse in a major hospital. Work was steady. Then, the coronavirus hit. The world was changed. Lois’ nurses were asking her questions. They were asking her leadership questions. There was silence because things were happening so fast. 

Lois only tried to worry about things she could control—care of her patients, as well as the safety of her staff. After 3 months into the pandemic, Lois felt the impacts. Hospitals were consolidated along with employees. Lois found herself working on the 10th floor of another hospital. She had been reduced from a Head Charge Nurse at a major hospital to a Nursing Assistant. Her pay was reduced by 25% and her status to part-time.

As she gave care to her patients in her new situation, she would share her story with some patients to show how things had changed after the coronavirus threat, not for pity. Lois had seen good nurses and doctors laid off during this time.

Lois was happy to have a job, thus feeding her family. That was the coronavirus effect! 

Workers exist in a volatile world. The coronavirus has damaged the economy across the globe – the United States is no exception. Since more than 22 million U.S. workers are filing for unemployment, government officials and business executives attempt to balance public health against economic survival. More layoffs are surely going to occur as the pandemic keep people at home. Yet, the economic pains can be felt across the country. Food lines are growing. A sagging economy persists. In fact, the U.S. has not seen these job losses during the Great Depression. The world is interconnected, thanks to globalization.   

As the U.S. dollar spirals downward, the foreign currency goes upward. China and India have added millions to their labor force, creating products as well as outsourcing their services abroad at a fraction of what American workers can provide. These upstart countries are positioning themselves to become the next Super Power. The U.S. middle class hold their breath as the threat of more job cuts become a reality, thereby further eroding their quality of life. With the coronavirus before us, this article examines the right kind of leadership in a volatile world.

The coronavirus has made its presence known, resulting in disruptive change throughout the globe. According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus has infected more than 2,000,000 people in at least 177 countries. To date, more than 800,000 Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19, resulting in over 40,000 deaths. Although New York has been the center of the discussion, every state has been impacted. Unintended consequences continue to happen. While the federal government rolls out a $2 Trillion stimulus package, President Trump and the state governors argue about who’s in control. Big Brother has arrived. The government dictates how private businesses must operate while restricting how citizens gather in the name of public safety. The results of the private infringements have sparked anti-government protests.

There needs to be a different type of leadership in a volatile world. Today’s pandemic, hypercompetitive environment needs high-performance organizations to sustain market success. Yet, many organizations operate from the same business structure from the Industrial Revolution. In this setting, managers oversee workers to control their performance due to the fact that managers believe workers are inferior and have no passion to work. Yet, most workers are willing to work if they are placed in a position to be successful, and there are shared rewards. Yet, I have heard too many complaints about bad bosses and uncaring organizations. There are too many managers and organizations that do not value the importance of their employees. These same managers are great at distributing tasks, but are unsuccessful in motivating their own workers. 

According to a RAND Corporation survey, the nation is not producing enough future leaders with substantive depth in international experience and outlook. In fact, the survey outlines the following top attributes for having a successful career in an international organization in the public environments: (a) general cognitive skills (problem-solving, analytical ability, etc.), (b) interpersonal and relational skills, (c) adaptivity, (d) cross-cultural competency, and (e) the ability to work in teams. 

However, in many businesses, the chore of developing leadership competencies is left to human resource managers. In fact, working in a global environment requires a different skill mix. J. Stewart Black, Allen Morrison, and Hal Gregersen, authors of  Global Explorers, argue that every global leader has a set of global characteristics regardless of his or her country or industry. The four key areas include inquisitiveness, perspective, character, and savvy. Business savvy becomes the word of the day because one must be able to think globally and adjust activities on the local level, as well as satisfying customers at all levels.

Leaders must be visionary so that they provide the organization a vision of what the organization wants to transform itself into in spite of the current situation. Leaders must push the decision making down to the lowest levels and empower employees to perform. Leaders must have integrity and lead by example. Leaders must have a global perspective in understanding that the world is interconnected. 

Leaders must be strategic so that they will look beyond today’s struggles to anticipate threats and seize opportunities. Leaders must know how to inspire and motivate workers to perform. Leaders must value diversity and maximize the most out of their talents. In fact, these competencies promote the necessity for leaders to learn how to work effectively with people who have different languages, customs, and social values. Leaders must make people accountable but share the rewards of the organization’s success. Leaders must learn how to listen and respect their employees so that they can maintain trust throughout the organization. 

In summary, the coronavirus is not leaving our planet any time soon. Societies across the globe will need to make adjustments to the new normal. Therefore, organizations cannot continue to stumble through this global environment. In fact, desperate times should demand immediate actions. With millions of unemployed and outsourcing of high paying jobs abroad, these market trends should get more of anybody’s attention. 

Organizations that want to sustain success in the future can no longer continue in the same mode of operations. This article demonstrated the critical need to select the right kind of leadership in a volatile world. Success will largely depend on their ability to manage their resources, seize strategic opportunities, and inspire their workforce toward greater performance. Let us pray that it is not too late.

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