As we pass the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic’s arrival in the United States, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year. We all know that 2020 was a historically difficult year for various reasons — from the pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, to social unrest and political failures. But along the way, there were some silver linings and learning opportunities among the storm clouds.
The last year forced the world to pivot — triggering unprecedented demands for flexibility, creativity, and ingenuity. But even though we adapted and rolled with the punches, the work shouldn’t stop there. We should embrace the lessons of 2020 and use them to continue to progress, grow, and change.
Here, we’ll explore some of the positive lessons we learned in 2020 that organization leaders should work hard to continue pushing forward.
Positive lessons from a rough year
- Working from home works. Good work can happen outside of the office walls. Offering flexible work options helps reduce overhead and improve employee happiness.
- Compassion and care go a long way. This year, strong leaders adopted a “people first” mentality. Treating employees and colleagues as humans first, and regularly checking in on each others’ wellbeing mattered more than ever. Taking care of your team’s physical and mental health was an absolute necessity for successful leaders.
- Crisis management matters. Teams need strong leadership in times of crisis and uncertainty. This was a time when transparency, kindness, empathy, and calm was needed most. The way a leader approaches a crisis influences the entire organization.
- Workplace diversity and inclusion is a priority. The heartbreaking events and following protests of the summer 2020 put racial tensions and inequalities in the national spotlight. This led companies and organizations of all kinds to evaluate their processes and culture to identify harmful blind spots and biases. But this was just the first step. This is a critical initiative that desperately needs to continue moving forward.
- Humans are flexible, resilient, and adaptable. Fear of change is normal, and it’s always easier to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. But 2020 turned this concept on its head and shoved us all out of our comfort zones. Whether it was new work policies, revenue streams, event structures, or business models, we ebbed with the changes and found success along the way. This forced change led to impressive ingenuity and innovation across industries.
- Plan for the unexpected. If 2020 wasn’t the sign you needed that it’s time to make a contingency plan, consider this your flashing-lights billboard. The pandemic showed us the worst can happen, and it’s important for leaders to have a strategy for handling future emergency events.