Promotions in the time of COVID – landing the big jump into a new role, while never leaving the room.

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The many challenges and uncertainties of 2020 highlight the criticality of  strong leadership.  While the cadence of hiring and promotion have been slowed, companies continue to place new leaders into high impact roles.

Knowing the challenges leaders typically face when making “big jumps” into high impact roles, 2020 has layered on an additional dimension to master: virtual leadership.  How does one successfully move into a role of significantly larger responsibility when all relationships are formed by phone, email or video?  How does a leader in a key role align, inspire and drive a team to execute well when there are no personal interactions?  How do they build trust remotely with key stakeholders across and outside of the organization?

ProjectNext Leadership conducted a recent study which focused on the unique challenges of leaders in high impact roles.  They include: 

  • Influencing a larger stakeholder group
  • Providing clear and quick direction in complex situations
  • Bringing others along to enact change
  • Leveraging the expertise of their team
  • Making quick and effective decisions with limited information 

So, how do these capabilities play out in a world of virtual interactions that are done from the same home office?  We’ve learned from leaders who are making these big jumps in 2020 that:

  • Communication is everything.  Frequency of interactions can help make up for lack of personal contact.
  • Everyone is a novice.  Leaders who are newer to key roles can take comfort in knowing that current conditions are unchartered waters for everyone.  As one leader put it, “this year has been the great equalizer for our executive team.”
  • Visibility is key.  Especially for those with large teams, it’s paramount to find ways to build trust and engagement creatively.  Effective leaders find ways to work around the limitations of virtual interactions.
  • Step into the void.  While uncertainty has increased exponentially, those newer leaders who are thriving in this time realize the importance, and opportunity, of strong leadership.  They are pushing through the uncertainty to create clarity, stability and ambition for their teams.

Jumping into a high impact role has never been easy. But landing that jump in the time of Covid, adds an entirely new dimension into the mix.  The leaders who master the art of virtual leadership will thrive, not only in the near term, but in the future. Those same skills of building trust at scale and influencing from afar will make them even more impactful when the shackles come off and they can leave their homes to lead their workforces in person.