Adapting and Thriving  as a Leader in These Uncertain Times

Summary: The global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2022 has undoubtedly reshaped the world and significantly impacted various aspects of society, including leadership. Here we look at how leadership has evolved in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. This in-depth blog explores how leadership development has changed post-pandemic and provides valuable insights for leaders seeking to navigate the new normal.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

My worst flaw is that I like to take lots of time to make decisions. I’ve been that way since I was an infant.

My mother smiles and sighs when she reminds me that she was afraid I would want to nurse till I was ready for grade school.

Still, she had to convince me to switch to other forms of food. Nope, I just wanted the sweet taste of Mother’s milk.

Yet, it was a struggle.

I could go on and on.

Mental gymnastics means learning to be flexible and not rely on old solutions for today’s issues.

Please give me some ways to be more agile in my leadership position. I am the head of marketing, and I see how fast people’s wants and needs seem to change in the blink of an eye.

For this reason, I know that my leadership style must change quickly in this post-pandemic world.

All things considered, I wonder if you have ever had trouble changing, or is it simply a slam dunk for you?


Stuck in the Mud

Dear Stuck in the Mud,

Change is moving faster than ever before.


Because we have so many ways to communicate at the speed of light and get information, literally around the world, in a matter of minutes.

In answer to your question about my ability to change.

In short, like drinking beer or devouring olives, it is an acquired taste.

Change is disruptive, challenging, and often delightful as we grow up.

We must change our thoughts, not just our underwear!

For instance, think about change this way: Would you ever wear the same underwear for months? Or would you only eat egg salad and nothing else for a whole year?

You say, “Of course not!”

Yet, so many of us are reticent to change our minds. We repeatedly do the same things over and over.

In other words, it takes work to change, and those who do will benefit. Those who stay rigidly attached to old patterns will become the new dinosaurs.

Now let’s switch gears and discuss some of the most critical changes for leaders during this period of “in between.”

Firstly, let me explain what I mean by “in-between.” We are the people of the parentheses. That is where the old-world order is no longer relevant, and the new ways of working together have not been clearly defined yet.

Secondly, we will address what leaders need to consider now and how you can change your and your organization’s behavior.

Embrace agile and adaptive leadership for success in changing times.

As an illustration, one of the most significant shifts in leadership post-pandemic is the increased emphasis on agile and adaptive leadership styles.

The uncertainties and rapid changes brought about by the pandemic have highlighted the importance of leaders who can quickly adapt their strategies, embrace innovation, and make data-driven decisions.

Salesforce’s Commitment to Agile Leadership: a global leader in customer relationship management has championed agile leadership practices. Under the leadership of CEO Marc Benioff, the company has encouraged leaders to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and customer needs. Salesforce emphasizes empowering employees to make decisions, embracing innovation, and continuously learning and evolving as a leader.

It is vital to prioritize emotional Intelligence.

The pandemic has amplified the need for leaders to demonstrate high emotional intelligence (EI) to manage and support their teams effectively.

Consequently, with remote work becoming more prevalent, leaders must be adept at recognizing and addressing the emotional needs of their employees.

Daniel Goleman is a great resource and has done remarkable work in this area.

Foster remote collaboration and team building for higher productivity.

The widespread adoption of remote work has necessitated a shift in how leaders foster collaboration and build cohesive teams.

All in all, there are many challenges and opportunities for remote collaboration.

Here is one example of a global team working with our consultants that initially could not find ways to work together in harmony. 

On a Zoom call, Gloria took a risk.

The facilitator’s question sat like a lump of whatever no one wanted to touch.

“What can you, as a team, do that will lighten up the communication with each other?”

Typically Gloria was quiet. She scored high as a people pleaser and didn’t like conflict.

Yet, something moved her to speak out. Her soft voice was strong, “We never laugh together. We only argue to prove each other wrong.”

There was a moment of total silence, and the facilitator had to make the choice to open this area or park it, as they had done in the past for backroom discussion only.

When everyone has a voice and speaks out, positive change happens.

After fifteen minutes of talking together, they came up with a plan.

Once a week, someone would be tagged as the “It Person” and would send to the team either a joke, story, visual, or video to the team to evoke a laugh.

Every two months, they would vote on what made them laugh out loud, and the winner would get an extra day linked to their vacation.

Did it work?

It caused more focus on the fun of working together and helped them get to know each other better.

The elephant in the room, the constant conflict, was lessened in a few months.

The theme for the year was “Do you know how to eat an elephant?”

The response was, “One bite at a time.”

In conclusion, laughing together increases the role of trust-building, fostering a positive team culture.

Best leaders lead with empathy and inclusivity.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of empathy and inclusivity in leadership.

Ultimately, leaders who demonstrate genuine empathy and actively foster an inclusive work environment are better equipped to support their teams’ well-being and drive productivity.

Google’s Focus on Empathy and Well-being: Google has placed a strong emphasis on empathy and well-being in its leadership approach. The company recognizes that a supportive and inclusive work environment is crucial for employee productivity and satisfaction. Google’s initiatives, such as the “Empathy Lag” pause” highlights the importance of leaders fostering empathy, promoting work life balance, and prioritizing employee mental health.

It is vital to navigate uncertainty and build resilience.

The pandemic has underscored the need for leaders who can effectively navigate uncertainty and build resilience within their teams and organizations.

In the same vein, strategies for leading during uncertain times include exploring the importance of transparent communication and providing insights into fostering resilience in individuals and teams.

Unilever’s Inclusive Leadership Practices: Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company has demonstrated a solid commitment to inclusive leadership. The company promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at all levels of the organization. Unilever’s leaders actively engage in DEI initiatives, foster a culture of belonging and prioritize equitable opportunities for all employees. This approach reflects the recognition that inclusive leadership drives innovation and business success.             

In conclusion, the post-pandemic era presents challenges and opportunities for leadership development. Leaders who can adapt to the changing landscape, prioritize emotional Intelligence, foster remote collaboration, lead with empathy and inclusivity, navigate uncertainty, and embrace digital transformation will be well-positioned to thrive in the new normal.

Finally, by continuously developing these skills and embracing the evolving demands of leadership, we can create resilient organizations capable of driving growth and success in the post-pandemic world.

Here’s to your success.

Sylvia Lafair

PS. Want a cheat sheet about leadership? Ask for our list of the 13 most crucial behavior patterns that get in the way of success and what happens when you transform them. Please send me an email at, and it is yours.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options