To investigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on a leaders management strategy

1. INTRODUCTION

A leader is a person who select, equip, train, influence, direct one or more followers in a certain harmony and coordination to achieve the mission and goals undertaken as an organization and at the same time disclose their spiritual, emotional, and physical energies (Fiedler, 1964; Winston & Patterson, 2006). In this respect, internal (mental or psychological state) or external (a pandemic such as novel coronavirus COVID-19) factors that affect the productivity, motivation, and management strategy of a leader, directly or indirectly, affect the harmony in an organization and coordination activities of non-executive or executive managers negatively as well. Referring to the statement made by World Health Organization (WHO) on 11th March 2020, COVID-19 pandemic is not just a public health crisis but also a crisis that can affect every sector, due to the alarming levels of spread, violence, and inaction, and can be described as a pandemic(World Health Organization, 2020). The impact the pandemic has had on business goes beyond closure of operations, lost revenues, dropping sales, and but also include disruption of organization cultural structures and workplace traditions.

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In a business era where business identify, traditions, and team work are core in propelling an organization into meeting its objective and satisfying consumers’ needs in an increasingly competitive business environment. The pandemic has exacerbated the challenge such as increasing competition, heightening consumer demands, stringent regulations and laws, consumer environmental consciousness, and demand for sustainability (Meyer et al., 2021; Kalogiannidis, and Chatzitheodoridis, 2021; Fairlie, and Fossen, 2021). For an organization to transitions by bracing through the change brought by the pandemic while ensuring its survival, it demands a robust structured framework. Arguably, this is only attainable by having effective breed of leadership who can map a roadmap towards addressing the challenges by the pandemic while also position an organization in a manner that it will navigate the current problems (Abdullah, and Anwar, 2021; Liu et al., 2021). Therefore, this research study aims to explore ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the leadership management strategy. The aim will be support by the following objectives

To conduct an critical analysis of the literature on leadership, strategic management, and challenges faced by business in contemporary environment

To investigate ways the novel COVID-19 pandemic has impacted business performance

To explore ways leadership through strategic management will aid businesses in addressing challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic

The leading guiding question will be;

How has the novel COVID-19 pandemic impacted the leadership management strategy?

Supporting questions

What is the impact of the COVID-19 on the businesses and organization operations?

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the short and long-term strategic plans of businesses

Can leadership style offer a lifeline through management strategy towards bracing the effect of COVID-19?

Thus, by using qualitative research, this research project will provide an overview of behaviors, attitudes, and performances in leadership, strategy, and management activities of non-executive or executive managers in London during the pandemic (COVID-19) process.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW

As a result of the restrictions imposed by most of the countries in the world due to the pandemic, most of the employees had to continue their work from home by working remotely from their computers, smart tablets or phones. It will be analyzed what kind of changes there are in the functioning of the leadership institution, what strategies it uses while managing its employees in this crisis environment.

Leadership in the context of rising globalisation and pandemics, according to Warren Bennis (2007), are two of the greatest challenges to international stability (Shufutinsky et al., 2020). Due to the pandemic limitations, universities, libraries, domestic and international business, restaurants, including the whole organisation, and many other institutions were closed throughout the pandemic. In this COVID-19 context of discontinuous change, effective leaders are regarded one of the most vital resources for companies, both in times of normality and crisis. However, international criticism has risen relative to national, regional, business, and public leadership (Shufutinsky et al., 2020).

Leadership in the context of rising globalisation and pandemics, according to Warren Bennis (2007), are two of the greatest challenges to international stability (Shufutinsky et al., 2020). In these kinds of situations, community, organisational, and social dynamics develop rapidly and continuously, and change is frequently unanticipated (Mariner et al., 2009; Shufutinsky et al., 2020). Whereas in their normal environment, organisational leaders focus on promoting innovation, driving corporate revenues, trying to maintain budgets, and acquiring market shares, today's COVID-19 environment has compelled focus shifts to supply chain issues, team shortages, operational challenges, and demonstrating the types of differences in leadership challenges that crises bring (Nichols et al., 2020; Shufutinsky et al., 2020). The existing COVID-19 crisis is throwing international leaders and healthcare institutions to the test, exposing weaknesses in communication strategies, management, preparedness, and resilience (Beilstein et al., 2020). It is plainly obvious that leading in the context of a pandemic is a difficult task, and the crisis has highlighted a good deal of individuals and institutional deficiencies in leadership competence, at the expense of lives (Wilson, 2020).

According to the literature, the majority of studies in the extensive corpus of leadership research have been undertaken in non-virtual professional environments and non-crisis scenarios (Wieseke et al., 2011; Benlian, 2014; Herhausen et al., 2017). Limited works discovered on virtual team leadership, which is consistent with Liao's (2017) remark that the processes and behaviors related to managing virtual teams have not been researched extensively. Only a few studies have looked at this, for example, various types of leadership in virtual teams (Muganda and Pillay, 2013; Abou Samra et al., 2020; Weber et al., 2019). To the large extent, the literature failed to capture the preparedness of an organization and entity business environment in time of a global-wide pandemic. Simultaneously, a gap in literature has been identified in analyzing the attitudes and behaviors of leaders in the virtual leadership process in crisis conditions such as pandemics (COVID-19). As a result of the demand to explore leadership environment making qualitative research, this research proposal aims to investigate the use of the concept of strategic leadership in the behavior and attitudes of leaders in the online management process. Fundamental questions arising from the literature are:

What effect does pandemic have on the effective management strategy of a leader?

What leadership problems did they encounter in remote working conditions and how did they deal with them?

3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The methodology provides to see the whole research process for a researcher, while methods are used to collect a specific technique (Neuman, 2014). The chapter consists of several parts which are research design, data collection procedure, interview with key informants, and data analysis which finds out how a researcher analyses the collected data. The current study adopts a qualitative method through the main instrument of data collection that is the in-depth interview. However, an in-depth interview, enables the researcher to use follow-up questions to grasp specific opinions (Ritchie & Lewis, 2003). This study seeks to find out the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on a leader’s management strategy.

3.1 Research Design

Because this study entails evaluating the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic on a leader's management approach, qualitative research is a viable research approach. As described by Silverman (2020), qualitative research involves collection and representation of non-numerical data aimed at having an in depth understanding of concepts, opinions, and experiences. Whereas, the quantitative research involves capturing the data and information gathered through research process numerically and statistically. A research design is a detailed strategy that explains the techniques and processes for gathering and interpreting data in a study. According to De Vaus, (2001) a research design ensures that evidence found from the data would be able to answer the research questions realistically.

3.2 Data Collection Procedure

The procedure of data collection involves the process of gathering primary data from in depth interview of selected samples and secondary data. For data collection, in-depth online interviews with participants who are experts and have extensive experience in leaderships and management on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on a leader’s management strategy will be applied. An online interview supported by such platforms as Zoom calls, Google Meet, and Video call will be adopted due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions travels and meeting as well as taking precautionary measures on contracting and spending the virus. Through the interview, a researcher will take notes during the interview since the protocol is a predetermined sheet (Crouch & McKenzie, 2006). Since in-depth interviews help informants to freely express what they feel (Creswell, 2013), this study will use guided interviews based on an open-ended format. Because of the negative conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, data collection is planned to conduct the interviews with defense company executives via Zoom or Microsoft Teams programs online for approximately 30 minutes. The interviews will be conducted in the English language and necessary transcriptions (coding and concept formation) will be analyzed. The sampling process will be follow a purposive sampling technique where a targeted participants will be identified and asked to participant in the study. The population sample will be 20 individuals in leadership or managerial positions in leading companies and business entities such as Vodafone, Hair, Amazon UK, Unilever, Starbucks, Tesco PLC, and Thomas Cook. An email will be sent to the potential participants asking for participation in the study.

2.1 Interview with Key Participants

First, to discuss the topic, the researcher will conduct the conversations via the online video program (Zoom or Microsoft teams) with key participants who have extensive experience (company executives or team leaders) to explain the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on a leader’s management strategy. The focus of interviews will revolve around the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on a leader’s management strategy.

Data Analysis

All interviews will be conducted by recording the video via the Zoom program or Microsoft teams itself to be analyzed later. For analysis, the data collected will be transcribed based on coding and concept formation. In addition, planning the interview allows the researcher organize the data from various themes that will be generated. What is more, verbatim expressions will be reported in the transcription process of the data. This method will show the original quality of participant’s responses and emerging themes. The data will be in the form of text, ranging from documents, interview transcripts, observation notes, and video records.

3.3.1 Coding and Concept Formation

During the process of coding qualitative data, the primary data will be organized into conceptual categories and themes or concepts will be created. According to Neuman (2014), an integral part of data analysis is qualitative coding. In qualitative research, writing down notes carries importance in the coding and concept formation. The researchers take notes and create a list of various themes from notes organized.

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4. Critical Reflection

In this research project, some basic difficulties will be encountered due to some problems brought by the pandemic conditions. While it is possible to plan face-to-face interviews to be conducted in line with the purpose of the research project, it has been stated that they can be done with video interview platforms. It is planned that the interviews will be completed in July, but in case of receiving a negative response to the e-mails I will send for the interviews, the data collection may not be completed on the planned dates and this may cause the writing phase of the thesis to be prolonged. In addition, if the answers of the participants in the interviews do not contribute to the study, a new participant search situation may arise and in this case, it may cause the process to be prolonged.

REFERENCES

Abdullah, N.N. and Anwar, G., 2021. Global Financial Outlook during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The role of effective leadership styles on Financial outlook. Available at SSRN 3824670.

Abou Samra, R., Al Sharari, N. and AlTunaiji, S., 2020, March. Conceptual Model for Challenges and Succession Opportunities for Virtual Project Teams in the GCC. In Future of Information and Communication Conference (pp. 328-340). Springer, Cham.

Bartsch, S., Weber, E., Büttgen, M., & Huber, A. (2020). Leadership Matters in Crisis-Induced Digital Transformation: How to Lead Service Employees Effectively During The COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Service Management, 32(1), 71–85.

Beilstein, C. M., Lehmann, L. E., Braun, M., Urman, R. D., Luedi, M. M., & Stüber, F. (2020). Leadership in a time of crisis: Lessons learned from a pandemic. Best Practice &Research Clinical Anaesthesiology.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Sage Publications pp. 155-183.

Crouch, M., & McKenzie, H. (2006). The logic of small samples in interview-based qualitative research. Social Science Information, 45(4), 483-499.

Fairlie, R. and Fossen, F.M., 2021. The early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on business sales. Small Business Economics, pp.1-12.

Fiedler, F. (1964). A Contingency Model of Leadership Effectiveness. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 149–190.

Kalogiannidis, S. and Chatzitheodoridis, F., 2021. Impact of Covid-19 in the European Start-ups Business and the Idea to Re-energise the Economy. International Journal of Financial Research, 12(2), pp.56-61.

Liu, Y., Wei, S. and Xu, J., 2021. COVID-19 and Women-Led Businesses around the World. Finance Research Letters, p.102012.

Meyer, B.H., Prescott, B. and Sheng, X.S., 2021. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business expectations. International Journal of Forecasting.

Neuman, W. L. (2014). Social research methods: Quantitative and qualitative approaches. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Richie, J., & Lewis, J. (eds). (2003). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. London: Sage Publications.

Shufutinsky, Anton & Deporres, Daphne & Long, Bena & Sibel, James. (2020). Shock Leadership Development for The Modern Era of Pandemic Management and Preparedness. The International Journal of Organizational Innovation, 13(1), 20-42.

Silverman, D. ed., 2020. Qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited.

Vaus, D. D. (2001). Research design in social research. Australia: SAGE Publications.

Weber, E., Krehl, E.H., Buettgen, M. and Schweikert, K., 2019, July. The Digital Leadership Framework: insights into new leadership roles facing digital transformation. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2019, No. 1, p. 13650). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.

Wilson, S. (2020). Pandemic leadership: Lessons from New Zealand’s Approach to COVID-19. Leadership, 16(3), 279–293. https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715020929151

Winston, B.E. & Patterson, K. (2006). An Integrative Definition of Leadership. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 6-66.

World Health Organization. (2020). Timeline: Who’s COVID-19 Response https://who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/interactive-timeline/#! (accessed 02.06.2021)

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