It’s clear that COVID-19 has changed the way we do business. We’ve needed to adjust communication within a business, update the way we connect with potential customers and even alter the products and services we provide. Three leadership skills have become essential to succeed in these confusing times: communication, adaptability, and transparency.

Communication has long been seen as an essential business soft skill, and having the ability to excel in this area is needed now more than ever. Meeting colleagues face-to-face has become rare for many of us. Instead we’re reliant on video conferencing software which allows us to still spot visual clues whilst in conversation with a colleague. It’s not an exact substitute for face-to-face conversations though, as we only see a small proportion of a person on screen, so can easily miss signs that are more apparent in person. To counteract this, we need to put more effort into our communication, carefully choosing our words and tone so we can provide clear direction. We should put more time aside where necessary to ensure our message in understood by the other person, carefully listening to their take on a situation so we can ensure we are in sync. A company policy of being open and honest will improve communication too.

As ways of working are changing so rapidly, we need to adapt as necessary. This doesn’t mean to react immediately to an issue, but to consider options and then take action in a timely manner. For instance, what changes have your company made to ensure your employees can safely work from home? Perhaps this has been achieved through a focus on easy-to-use and effective communication tools, secure access to documentation from outside the office and new options to support the welfare of employees. You may have also considered what adaptations have been required to improve your customers’ experience during the pandemic. Perhaps you’ve looked into upgrading delivery methods to clients to better meet their needs or introduced new services which factor in COVID-19 restrictions. Regardless of your chosen options, the important thing here is to take a measured approach to adaptation that is fully supported across the company.

When there are adjustments within your business, the need for transparency increases. All of the team need to be made aware of any new ways of working so they act in accordance with them. Even the way you communicate this will change if you’re not longer located in the same building as your team. For example, something that was once a big announcement in the board room will now need to be conveyed using technology in a way that still highlights its importance. Your employees will also need to know how the company’s roadmap is being updated for the new business climate so they can amend their projects accordingly. This transparency creates a sense of unity which is invaluable; everyone has access to key information about the company, enabling them to feel part of a solid team with clear objectives at a time when there’s so much uncertainty.

There are many other skills that can serve you in difficult circumstances, yet communication, adaptability and transparency stand out. Honing these skills will allow you to lead your company to better times. They will foster a positive outlook for your business at a time when so many are being impacted by the global pandemic, as you decisively and effectively overcome any challenge.