The year is 2020, and businesses are feeling the brunt of the global pandemic that has struck.
It has been an incredible test to many businesses and particularly to business leaders, who have had to react and adapt very quickly in fast-changing circumstances.
The ever-increasing pressure of employees isolating or on sick leave, setting up remote working, taking measures to keep the business afloat, the team safe and the customers happy, has required a different standard of leadership. The ‘new normal’ requires new leaders – Gandalf leaders.
The character of Gandalf in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit is not only motivational, driven, and compassionate – essential skills of running a business – but he gives two people a task that could save the world. He believes in them, is there to support them during their journey, and gives them opportunities to truly excel throughout their time together.
Business needs Gandalf leaders, who have the vision, but empower others to embrace the journey and pursue their dreams.
There are two main factors driving this need: the business environment and people:
If businesses were reluctant to let their workforce work remotely before Coronavirus, they have now been forced to give it a chance and many have seen that teams can work just as well if they’re not physically in an office. Leaders are realising that micro-managing does not work in this new remote-working world. Stepping away from the operational detail is difficult, but worth it. The business leader has more freedom and time to work ON the business rather than IN it, and it gives the team the space and encouragement to perform and take ownership of their job.
Gandalf leaders know the importance of being there for their team, so they can guide them and give them support when needed. There is a fine line for Gandalf leaders to tread: they need to work strategically on the future of the business, to create a vision that will inspire and motivate their team, yet they also need to give their team the freedom to perform whilst being available to support, counsel and mentor them when needed.
Gandalf leaders know that business now and in the future is about people – customers and employees. We know that the new generation of workers is no longer driven by money. Customers want experience, quality, relationship, sustainability, ecologically produced products and services. Employees want fun, flexibility, passion, team spirit and mentorship.
It is crucial that business leaders spot the passions and hidden skill sets that their team members may not see for themselves. With this keen eye, they are able to provide support, education, and encouragement to their employees, helping them develop as people and thrive in their role, thus benefiting the business as a whole. Employees who feel nurtured within the company will want to stay for years to come. With these educated, motivated, and professional employees, the business will thrive, because they will continue to grow and do excellent work within the business and have loyalty to the company.
A few tips for Gandalf leaders:
Know your people
Channel Gandalf’s magic powers and start noticing your people and what makes them light up. Understand what motivates them, what their passions and dreams are. Connect with them.
Know your values
Take time to learn about yourself. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Do you value discipline and tasks being performed in a timely manner or creativity and enthusiasm? Understanding your own values and what make you truly tick will make your life as an employer so much easier. Hire people who share your values.
Find opportunity in every challenge
When things go wrong, it’s easy to start catastrophising. Rise above that and try to see the positive in everything. If a client misses an appointment, good, you have time to finish that email. If an employee makes a mistake, good, they have the opportunity to learn. Society is locked down, good, you can spend more time with your family.
It’s worth remembering that everything eventually passes, but the way a leader has behaved will be remembered and this will be their legacy. Times of change and challenge build character and experience and make you a better leader. We are starting on a new path in business leadership – and Gandalf leaders will stand out.
Elena Meskhi is a certified accountant and tax adviser and founder of accountancy firm, Elena Meskhi & Co. She is also the author of a new book, Rewire Your Business For Success: the 6 step method to increase profit and reclaim your freedom.