“The present global scenario calls for a new leadership perspective emphasizing respect to all regions, religions, communities, and ethnicities. It calls for soft leadership involving negotiation and persuasion with an emphasis on empathy.” —Professor M.S. Rao
Leadership styles have evolved from time to time leading to an improved version of leadership style. COVID-19 is a crucible within which a soft leadership style is refined. In the post-COVID-19 world, we expect a soft leadership style that is agile, resilient, compassionate, and collaborative with an emphasis on people-orientation without compromising task-orientation.
The leadership in the future will be different because there will be less gap between the developed nations and the less developed nations with an increased emphasis on combating climate change, reducing emissions, investing in renewable energy, and ensuring ecology. There will be a humane treatment for animals and respect for wildlife.
In the current COVID-19 scenario, leaders adopt three stages of responding, recovering, and thriving. In the future, there will more virtual leadership and less physical leadership. The leaders lead in the high-tech world without much physical interaction. We will live in a world that is more cohesive to overcome the crises which require an integrated effort from all stakeholders including entrepreneurs, intellectuals, thought leaders, nonprofits, local governments, and global organizations.
What is Soft Leadership?
When you look at leaders like Booker T. Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Mikhail Gorbachev, Dalai Lama, and Aung San Sui Kyi, there is a common thread connecting all of them―soft leadership. They are all soft leaders who silently performed and led the people to accomplish their dreams. They have character, charisma, conscience, conviction, courage, communication, compassion, commitment, consistency, consideration, and contributed extensively toward society and made a difference in the lives of others.
I have coined a new concept ‘Soft leadership’ to overcome the drawbacks in the existing leadership styles. I have authored several books on ‘Soft Leadership’ and published research papers and articles for international journals and magazines. It is receiving overwhelming response globally. Here is the description of soft leadership.
Soft leadership is leading through soft skills and people skills. It blends soft skills, hard skills, and leadership. It emphasizes the significance of precious Human Resources. It helps in managing the emotions, egos, and feelings of the people successfully. It focuses on the personality, attitude, and behavior of the people, and calls for making others feel more important. It is an integrative, participative, relationship, and behavioral leadership model adopting tools such as persuasion, negotiation, recognition, appreciation, motivation, and collaboration to accomplish the tasks effectively.
Soft leadership is not a submissive leadership or a lame-duck leadership but an assertive leadership where soft leaders adopt pleasing and polite communication to execute their tasks. It is a blend of courageous leadership, thought leadership, servant leadership, and inspirational leadership. Succinctly, soft leadership can be defined as the process of setting goals; influencing people through persuasion; building strong teams; negotiating them with a win-win attitude; respecting their failures; handholding them; motivating them constantly; aligning their energies and efforts; recognizing and appreciating their contribution in accomplishing organizational goals and objectives with an emphasis on soft skills. It is based on the right mindset, skillset, and toolset.
Geographically, soft leadership bridges the gap between the developed nations and less developed nations through global leadership. Organizationally, soft leadership closes the gap between employers and employees through partnership. Soft leadership is the need of the hour as the employees don’t appreciate working under the bosses and leaders. They enjoy working with partners. So, soft leadership is synonymous with a partnership to accomplish goals and objectives.
The World in the Post-COVID-19 Scenario
Here are some possible scenarios and situations in the post-COVID-19 world. You will find a world that will be different from the present in various aspects including economy, environment, technology, society, and politics. Humans will be connected virtually where virtual learning gains prominence with decreased cost toward education, learning, and training. There will be increased investment in remote conferencing. Some of the top branded global companies will vanish from the market paving the way for small and unknown companies. It is like Davids taking on the Goliaths globally.
There will be innumerable opportunities and threats to entrepreneurs arising from artificial intelligence (AI) and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR). Baby Boomers and Generation X will be under pressure if they don’t adapt to technological innovations. Generation Y and Generation Z will rule the world with their creativity, innovation, and ideas. There will be more failures in start-ups and increased empathy and respect toward failures. Although the economy will be under recession, it will bounce back much faster and stronger as the people are resilient and smarter in exploring innovative solutions to the pressing problems.
Businesses will prepare effectively to overcome crises in the future. The global political scenario will be more empathetic and compassionate bridging the gap between the developed nations and less developed nations. There will be increased credibility to global bodies including the World Health Organization and the United Nations.
The global society will be purpose-driven with increased emphasis on health and social security measures. Telemedicine becomes the order of the day. People respect technology and harness it effectively to lead their lives with purpose and meaning. There will be an increased emphasis on online security, healthcare, and social security measures. There will be less air pollution as people rarely commute to their workplaces because they work from home. People will be more conscious of the environment. There will be increased partnership and cooperation between the public and private sectors. The organizations and individuals that adopt technology will survive and thrive. There will be an increased emphasis on public order, shared sacrifice, and humanity.
It is difficult to predict the future accurately but it is possible to predict it to some extent based on the past and present scenarios. To conclude, we would live in a trimmer, slimmer, stronger, and smarter world dominated by digital technology in the post-COVID-19 world.