People First in Post-Pandemic LeadershipBy Ingo Babrikowski | Fri, 02/19/2021 - 12:55
The common denominator in the experience of companies, individuals and industries in 2020 was uncertainty. As the virus expanded and governments across the world suspended business, company leaders tried to calculate the next scenario, but no one was able to visualize the COVID-19 tsunami in its entirety.
Many have reflected on the impact of this unexpected and devastating event, which according to Statista had claimed 1.7 million lives worldwide by the end of 2020. It was precisely the imminent risk to human life that put us in an unexpected dimension.
A study by EY titled, What If Uncertainty Were Your Best Leadership Opportunity? mentions that leadership behaviors in organizations will be determined by eight major challenges in the new normality. The first of these is the continuity and sustainability of our businesses, of course. The remaining seven are related to only two components: technology and people.
Business, technology and people are then the focal points of leadership for the new normal. None are more important than the others; they coexist and complement each other like never before. Other skills most valued by leaders are the ability to listen to the team and resilience.
The Crisis of Estafeta
From April 2020, with widespread confinement and the suspension of all economic activities except those deemed essential, online shopping became the path of access to all types of products and articles. In just one week, our operating centers were flooded with packages and our operations collapsed. Working hard and almost relentlessly was not enough to slow down the load that just kept coming.
The delay in deliveries began to affect customers, becoming a crisis for Estafeta. We were going through the implementation of all the measures and protocols necessary to take care of our people, we acquired the necessary equipment so that administrative staff could work from home; fortunately, our communications network was ready, but it was practically impossible to predict a scenario that exceeded our operational capacity.
There was a possibility of not accepting any more burden from our customers. In the history of companies, as happens to people, there comes a point when we must decide to jump and undertake a new challenge, testing our strength and capacity, even though we believe it may be too much, or remain static out of fear.
We decided to grow. We invested in operating centers and new vehicles. We offered formal jobs to more than 3,000 people. It was our leap. We listened to each other and we were resilient at a time when everything was pointing to disaster.
To the strength and value of the team, I must add the sense of responsibility we shared by understanding that our service was a way for people to remain connected to their health, jobs, businesses, families and friends. It is not an exaggeration to say that the logistics industry has kept the world moving.
It is very difficult to think of the millions of companies of all sizes that have closed; however, we have also heard numerous business stories about generating new opportunities. Some chefs today are offering online classes for diners to prepare dishes with the ingredients they have previously received at home, for example.
Technology is certainly the protagonist of the story, from home office, virtual meetings with family, online classes, e-commerce, training and performance assessment, to medical appointments and evaluations. As a result of the pandemic, technology has enveloped us. For some, it was the spark that immersed us fully while for others it represented a true ship to the unknown, and with little oxygen.
However, the best lesson learned, it seems to me, is that people are at the center of success. Indeed, they are our most valuable asset. We are driven by our collaborators and their families; it is people who generate ideas, solutions and innovation.
Winning teams are successful in business by leveraging technology to generate value and well-being. If we are indeed going to emerge stronger from this crisis, it will be because we have understood the above.