What do leadership programs look like today? The recent crisis in the world has emphasized the need for strong leaders within all levels of an organization. However, during these unprecedented times, many organizations delayed implementing their leadership development plans. Understandable, yes, but at what cost?

Times have changed, and companies need to prepare leaders to look at challenges through a different lens. As you look to refresh your leadership development strategies for the “new normal,” here are some key items to consider.

Mindful Empathy

it is hard to imagine the volume and variety of change that people have gone through during this time. Whether it is the stress of managing kids while simultaneously running a web meeting, helping a sick family member, processing serious world issues, or worrying about the future – people have a lot on their minds and their plates. In addition, potentially returning to an office after many months of working from home provides a completely new set of anxieties and issues. Addressing the mental health and well-being of employees is crucial to any leadership development program. Many people have changed – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually – and leadership development efforts need to change as well. Understanding the concept and relevance of empathetic leadership is a necessary skill, and identifying how this affects a leader’s behavior is a capability that can help drive performance.

Perpetual Elasticity

Managing a virtual workforce has presented many challenges, but it has also provided many new and innovative opportunities. Many say that communication has actually increased and that virtual meetings have helped them stay focused. Others feel burnt out by the constant need to be “on.” Leaders need to set the tone and determine how to provide an elastic environment that encourages personal responsibility and allows people to be productive, creative and heard.

Again, there are skills that all leaders need – such as great communication and active listening – however, identifying how those skills work together to create a flexible environment that encourages innovation is a capability that will serve leaders well and help their organizations perform at a higher level.

Culture Keepers

The “new normal” has the ability to distort a corporate culture or enhance it to new levels. The tangible and intangible components of most organizations’ cultures have developed over many years. Keeping employees engaged and committed to the common purpose can be tricky in this environment. Employees want to engage with one another and feel as if they belong – whether virtually or in person. Creating outreach opportunities and programs is a great start, but as we enter this next phase, we need to develop leaders capable of embodying the core values while molding the new corporate culture that organizations need to move forward.

There is a lot to think about as we reignite our leadership development programs. Rather than creating standard skill-based programs, we should consider making a subtle shift toward more capability-focused programs. Capability-based programs effectively capture the way an individual thinks and/or feels, and then help to identify how that impacts the way leaders behave and make decisions. This focus can drive programs that help build leaders who can create a vision, model behaviors they want to see and motivate others. What will your leadership programs look like as we move forward in the new post-pandemic world?