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Well we thought it might be over. But it has returned with a vengeance.

Just as it seemed that the coronavirus pandemic had been successfully contained in Hong Kong, the so-called third wave has led to a spike in cases over the past week, after more than six week of no locally acquired cases. In response, the Hong Kong government has just announced the reintroduction of sweeping social-distancing measures.

It does indeed appear that the impact of the pandemic is going to be with us for some time to come – the ultimate test of patience. And in this new phase of uncertainty it’s the individuals and organisations that can hold their nerve and make balanced decisions that will prevail.

Sound leadership, of course, is key.

Here are the five crucial leadership skills that will help your team weather the pandemic successfully.

#1 Be flexible
A recent survey by 451 Research revealed that 78% of organisations consider that the COVID-19 pandemic has already had significant negative operational impact. A total of 34% have delayed or stopped strategic hiring plans, while 22% have ceased the roll-out new products or services.

“It is obvious that all the business goals and objectives we set for 2020 are mostly obsolete now,” said Ozlem Sarioglu, co-founder of SparkUs Digital Coaching.

“We, as leaders, need to slow down and do the thinking now. We need to be flexible to redesign whatever plans we had. For that purpose, we need to analyse what to keep, what to avoid and what to achieve. We need to be able to break down previous plans into separate components and ingredients, and to reimagine a completely new recipe for an entirely new meal if you like,” she told HR Grapevine.

#2 Manage the unknown
Flexibility is also about the ability to manage the unknown. Even recently remade plans may not be relevant in a matter of weeks – as July’s spike in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong demonstrates. We don’t know how long the pandemic will continue, when a vaccine will be found and how the virus will continue to affect the economy. Will it present opportunities in adversity as well as challenges?

#3 Manage your emotions and embrace vulnerability
“Since this is a crisis that is present at all levels of our lives simultaneously, there is an emotional rollercoaster from fear to anger, from hope to frustration for each and every individual. If you think about the hierarchy of needs, we are trying to take care of both our basic need of survival and the top need of self-actualisation at the exact same time,” said Sarioglu.

“Remember that we also are human beings. Recognise our own feelings, whatever is present at that moment. We may need a trusted person and/or a support group to hold us there. Only from that point on can we make a meaningful connection with the outer world and support our people and our business,” she explained.

ALSO READ: 3 Crucial tips on the role of HR in a crisis

#4 Recognise the importance of new skills and modes of communication
The above mentioned survey also revealed that 62% of the 800-plus decision-makers quizzed said they have already experienced a drop-off in employee productivity – or expect to – in the next three months.

The ability to communicate is an essential skill of any successful leader. It’s especially crucial to keep a variety of channels of communication open during the ongoing impact of the pandemic to boost employee morale and motivation.

#5 Be inclusive and engage your employee base
During these extraordinary times its easy for an employee to feel disengaged from the work, the team and the organisation. And with so many distractions for HR right now, it may be easy to ‘forget’ someone who just joined the team or is somewhat high maintenance.

“How to assure inclusion of everyone, to relate to them wherever they are in the skill-will matrix, and to provide enough attention to keep their engagement will be the other key factor, said Sarioglu.

“We need a clear strategy of delegation, empowerment and inclusion especially in the face of such a challenging period,” she concluded.

Parts of this article first appeared on the HR Grapevine website.