“Leadership” is one of those words that take on a different meaning for each of us who use it. Because of the range in the definition each person may have for “leadership,” it can be tough to have a conversation where everyone involved has the same understanding. Despite this, the idea of leadership itself and the benefits that leaders can bring to teams and organizations is inarguable. Everyone can agree there.

If there is one thing that I have noticed throughout this past crazy year, it’s that organizations that had good leaders on their teams were in far better positions than organizations that didn’t. To be fair, there were just some industries as a whole that the pandemic decimated, and that is no fault of their own. However, for the most part, this type of global crisis revealed everyone’s leadership capabilities.

A recent article written by MIT Sloan Management Review captured a survey’s results on organizations’ performance throughout 2020. In this survey, the highly ranked organizations scored incredibly well on transparency, communication, empathy, values, and culture. Conversely, those organizations that scored poorly in these areas struggled because of poor leadership.

Again, I understand that we were in the middle of a pandemic, and times have been extremely difficult for all involved in some way, shape, or form. But in times of crisis, good leadership gets you through the tough times. Leadership is the key strategic differentiator in the world we are living in.

At Solutions 21, we believe individuals who model peak leadership performance in organizations do the following:

  1. Understand how to create and communicate a vision effectively,
  2. Identify and align the correct resources around that vision,
  3. Set manageable expectations,
  4. Hold their teams accountable,
  5. Champion execution.

This stuff, however, doesn’t just happen. Learning how to build the muscle memory habits required for peak leadership is a highly-involved process. After creating and sustaining these habits, leaders should be able to do these things, even in the face of a crisis. Constantly developing current and future leaders within an organization is critical to continuing to build these habits. There is never an endpoint where one could say, “Yep, I’ve arrived. I’m a leader and don’t need any more work.” Great leadership never arrives at a destination.

In this fast-paced world—that, quite frankly, doesn’t look like anything we can compare it to in the past—organizations will need to develop more and better leaders to handle the challenges we all are inevitably going to be facing.

Regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or personal beliefs, humanity and society need strong leaders to get where we are going. No longer can tenure or title be the sole qualifications for leadership. Just like with any skill you’d like to improve, learning how to be a great leader takes time and work. Leaders are made, not born, and if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need more dynamic and tested leaders on our teams and in our companies. That takes work, time, and a focus on development.