A successful post pandemic leadership style

The post pandemic leadership style will be one that thrives in and survives a crisis. It’s unchartered territory and requires new thinking.


As we seem to be emerging from a post pandemic period we are still in unchartered territory. The old line that we can’t solve new problems with old thinking resonates loudly. The post pandemic leadership style will be one that thrives in, and survives, a crisis. We are in unchartered territory and requires new approaches.

Battle lines are being drawn around working from home, hybrid, and returning to the office. What employees want is flexibility. They want it for themselves but they also want it from their leaders. They are looking for leaders with vision and good communication skills who can share their message with clarity.  In an era where there are high levels of distrust in certain areas, they want leaders they can count on.

There are six key areas where the next generation of leaders need to demonstrate their skills:

  • Listening
  • Trust
  • Transparency
  • Collaboration
  • Empathy
  • Communication

These leadership traits are at the core of the return to a physical, communal workplace, however it will be structured.

  post pandemic leadership style

6 key attributes of a successful post pandemic leadership style

1. Listening

As we emerge from a collective trauma, one of the major challenges is to let people know they are being heard. The meteoric early success of the audio platform Clubhouse and it’s recent drop in numbers, for me a sign that people just want to feel listened to. Now that life is opening up they are going elsewhere;

It’s important to be present and attentive and the speaker knows that you hear what they are saying.  If you are doing this online your listening has to be visible and audible, with recaps and clarification.  Recap frequently and clarify any points which might be confusing.  Understand that problems are like diamonds. They are multi-faceted and not usually binary. Find the nuance and the point for compromise. You don’t have to agree with everything. The only thing you are committing to is listening.

Read:  3 key steps to visible communication 

2. Trust

Demonstrating trust is one of the major characteristics behind that elusive concept “gravitas” we hear so much about.  It’s not only about beliefs around hard skills and performance. We do need to know that people have the abilities to do their job competently, so hard skills play a part. Consistency, openness, integrity, and all manner of other soft skills and qualities which are very subjective, also play a key role.

Trust is closely aligned with integrity. Dr. Brené Brown says: “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”  

As companies express concern about employee productivity, all research from HBR suggests when employees have the option to work remotely they are more engaged and productive. Choice is fundamental.


Read: Why trust is critical to an inclusive workplace

3. Transparency

Transparency is one of the hottest topics and a top-rated leadership attribute.  During lockdown many employees have felt like mushrooms, that is ‘kept in the dark’. Transparency in leadership means keeping employees informed of whatever news there is, the good, the bad and the ugly. People don’t like surprises and they like shocks even less. They want clear expectations and constructive feedback.  They want updates, the opportunity to contribute and give feedback, especially if their health is at risk.

Returning to the office with the accompanying “re-entry syndrome” is making many nervous around their physical safety. Leaders need to communicate in an open way the measures they are taking to protect the well-being of their teams.

Read: Managing Re-entry Syndrome

  post pandemic leadership style

4. Collaboration

Linking these characteristics together results in collaboration and empowerment.  When leaders empower their teams, communicate openly and accurately they earn trust.  This is vital because managing hybrid teams calls for different skills and a new post pandemic leadership style. Things aren’t just going to bounce back to the way they were before pandemic. For most, this is good news.  There is lots of robust discussion on how the workplace will look as we settle down into something. The #WFH brigade are vocal but there is a strong contingent who want to get back to the office. Most want some sort of flexibility and we will have to see how that works out and the cost involved.

Read: Pandemic Crossroads – people first?

5. Empathy

However, we all have different experiences of the pandemic. Understanding what has been going on for different team members means that empathy is going to be an important trait when the workplace opens up. Some will have endured hardship and loss. Others may have been isolated or overwhelmed. There are different levels of concern around the safety of the workplace. If you as a leader are personally stretched, get help for yourself and involve someone else to offer emotional support to your team.

Read: We need Chief Empathy Officers

6. Communication

It’s more important than ever that we communicate with clarity and consistency, but also with intention. Working remotely has knocked chance encounters on the head, where we could pick up what was going for someone from their non-verbal communication. We can sense a vibe in an office which is harder to do online.

Esther Perel the Belgian Relationship Therapist said in an article for the Guardian  “We see each other, and we’re talking to each other, and we’re in dialogue., but I’m not making eye contact with you. And my body is not registering. I’m not able to lean toward you; I’m not able to move away from you. The entire embodied experience that you have in person is absent here. We can have a conversation, and it may become a very deep, rich, meaningful conversation, but there are elements of body language that can only be noticed when two people are physically present in a room” 

It’s important to establish communication preferences around channels and timing. Now we are all familiar with Zoom Doom we are approaching online meetings from a different angle. Getting feedback and testing the mood of your team will be critical.

Moving forward

Organisations that refuse or are unable to move away from “patrol and control” management techniques will probably struggle. All indications suggest that a successful post pandemic leadership style will involve all the characteristics mentioned above. They are wellness focused and people-centred.

If problems are like diamonds, durable and multi-faceted, this is what we need to see in a post pandemic leadership style. Many will say these are surely old skills? This is partly true, but the current need for them is greater than ever. As we hear increasingly of leaders coercing their teams back to a physical workplace, it would seem that they may be very much on the back burner.

Advance your career and reach your full potential with our Leadership Coaching for Women


Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
follow me

Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services

Individual services

Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.

Corporate services

The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)

Upcoming events

Book Now

Linkedin Live on Ageism Friday 24th September 2pm BST with Hung Lee

Join Dorothy Dalton and colleagues -  Jo Weech, Head of People, (Exemplary Consultants),  Jacob Sten Madsen, Talent Acquisition Advisor (Nielsen) & Anne-Hermine Nicolas, Head of Executive Recruitment (ex-Deloitte), Frank Zupan, Director of Talent Management (Associated Materials) to discuss critical issues in Hung Lee’s Brainfood Live.

You can register here.




Dates for the Diary

September  21st -  ENGIE Gender bias in Performance Assessment online
September 24th -  Linkedin Live on Ageism with Hung Lee
October 26th - Banque de Luxembourg Préjugés sexistes dans le processus de recrutment.



We have Remote Learning Programs available 

Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally a digital world.

Download and listen free podcasts

Related articles

A small way men can be better allies

A small way men can be better allies

There are situations that most men would not give a second thought to, but women are programmed to think about their personal security. There are ways men can be better allies to women with simple steps.

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
3 Plus International Call Back Request