8 Business Leadership Tips for 2021

business management consultant

The only certainty is uncertainty

Having supported our clients throughout the pandemic, now, as the light at the end of the long tunnel begins to flicker it is time to start implementing those post Covid plans we have been working so hard on. Traditionally we would be reflecting, both personally and professionally, on individually and collectively setting goals for the year ahead.  However, this year it feels so very different.


As business leaders what are our new year resolutions? What remains relevant? What impact has the last 10 months had on the individuals who are integral to realising our vision?  Here are eight tips that we hope will help.

1. Set some realistic expectations

None of us will have come through the last 10 months unscathed. Everyone will have their lockdown story and as leaders we need to listen, understand, and help people believe again. 2021 will be a year of transition with many unknowns and possible further bumps in the road. Now is the time to re-set those expectations and avoid adding further stress to the lives of your people who are also trying to get hold of what they can expect from themselves.


2. Celebrate progress

Great achievements might be unattainable currently but we need to feel like we are making progress. Focus on what we can control and put in sufficient measures to know we are winning. We all need the positive glow of success, however marginal.


3. Bank the learning

Take the learning from the months of working remotely, the changes to the very fabric of how we do business, the impressive speed of change borne out of necessity but ‘keep the baby in the bath,’ stay true to your ‘why.’ What made you successful pre-covid might just be what will make you successful in the future. You just might need to adapt how you interact with your customers and manage a team a little further from your gaze!


4. Ruthlessly prioritise

Long term planning might feel like next week but do take some time to assess what are the big priorities for the months ahead. Collaborate with your leadership teams and then work out what are the steps that will help you get there. Cut out the noise and develop a razor sharp focus on what will drive the performance of your business in times of such uncertainty.


5. Stay close to your customers

Changing customer buying habits are very evident at a macro-economic level but what changes are you seeing closer to home? There is no doubt that the pandemic has re-prioritised customers’ interest in why you do what you do. Purpose beyond making money and how you add a societal value has become paramount, however, do not try to fake it to a more discerning buyer!


6. Inspiring your team has never been more important

Our resilience is running on empty so as leaders don’t get in the way, just ensure you create the right environment for learning and success. As Daniel Pinks writes in his book ‘Drive’ motivation comes from autonomy (self-direction,) mastery (creating a learning organisation,) and purpose (let people see the bigger picture/goal.) As leaders our focus should be inspiring people to believe in our business dreams.


7. Be the change you want to see? 

Change starts with you. We are habitual animals, and it is easy to operate in our own comfort zones. When was the last time someone told you something you really didn’t want to hear? If it was a long time ago you may want to get your head out of the sand!

The 2020 ScaleUp institute report emphasises the importance of mentors, peer to peer networks as well as improving the accessibility of Non Executive Directors for growing businesses. You are not immune to recent events and you are not expected to have all the answers. Find a trusted partner who cares about you and your business.


8. Be kind to yourself and your team

When we have had the kitchen sink thrown at us we have to retain and exude the belief that the future will be better and as Mahatma Gandhi said

‘if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.’