Indeed, as soon as a crisis appears and that collaborators are anxious, who do they turn to for answers? Towards their leaders. And this for several reasons:
– leaders are the single big contributor to how employees experience work, especially post pandemic,
– leaders need to care for employees experiencing grief, anxiety, and uncertainty,
– leaders have new challenges, from reskilling teams for hybrid work to addressing racial justice and climate change.
According to an article published in March 2020 by mckinsey, “the coronavirus pandemic has placed extraordinary demand on leaders in business” and “the massive scale of the outbreak and its sheer unpredictability make it challenging for executives to respond”.
The main reason is that the pandemic presents all the characteristics of a widespread crisis called “Landscape Scale”, i.e. “an unexpected event or sequence of events of enormous scale and overwhelming speed, resulting in high degree of uncertainty that gives rise to disorientation, a feeling of lost control, and strong emotional disturbance”.
In this context, the first task of leaders, not least, is to recognize the crisis situation. The second is to develop their response strategy. If they had to improvise at the very beginning, now it is a question of directing differently, considering that all we have experienced in recent months.
Anxiety is on the rise as employees return to the office and one of the first things to do is restore their confidence. And that confidence will be regained through leaders who do the tough things of leadership, but in a human way.
As a leader, how do you care about your people while doing the tough things that leadership requires? Many think this is a binary choice but making tough decisions and being human are not mutually exclusive. In truth, they are aligned. There are two key ingredients: wisdom and compassion. And doing difficult things requires these two qualities:
◼ wisdom by having the courage to be transparent with others and do what needs to be done even when it is uncomfortable
◼ compassion, that is, caring and empathy for another person, combined with an intention to support and help
Employees whose leaders demonstrate wisdom or compassion have distinct positive experiences. They love and are engaged in their work and are less likely to burn out.
But, when a leader demonstrates both wisdom and compassion, the impact on employee well-being and productivity is exponential.
According to The Potential Project, the impact of a leader’s compassion and wisdom on the employee experience is enormous:
+ 86% on job satisfaction
+ 64% on decreased burnout
+ 61% on organization commitment
+ 77% satisfaction with leader
+ 20% on job performance
+ 53% on job engagement
Leadership styles are not hardwired. With compassion and wisdom, leaders do difficult things in a human way.
1- Set up teleworking
2- Redefine existing professional practices such as the adoption of new digital tools to facilitate collaboration or new work routines (with, for example, meeting-free Friday afternoons)
3- Develop teamwork
4- Define clear priorities
5- Develop the autonomy of teams
6- Promote collaboration and transparency (by distributing responsibilities and sharing information)
7- Guarantee psychological safety (by allowing all employees to speak openly about their ideas, ask questions and raise concerns, without fear of repercussions)
8- Organize webinars to help teams
9- Set up workshops on mental health and mindfulness sessions
It is also important to change mindsets by allowing new skills to develop.
1- Emotional intelligence: this is arguably the most important skill that everyone will need in this new world. Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to manage our emotions, which enables us to cope better with crisis situations. Our EI also allows us to appreciate and understand the emotions of others. An emotionally intelligent leader has a good understanding of his own emotions and those of others, and he knows how to deal with them effectively. Emotional intelligence, empathy, and compassion are all qualities that are often found in the most capable leaders. But beware, this does not mean being weak and letting go, it just means sympathizing and putting yourself in other people’s shoes.
2- The capacity to adapt: everyone has had to adapt and meet new challenges with this pandemic. We will have to continue in this way and continue to work with agility and flexibility to face future changes and be able to evolve quickly. And without forgetting to design emergency plans.
3- The ability to communicate: the way in which leaders communicate will be of considerable importance as their teams expect them to show them the way forward. They will need to communicate regularly and sincerely.
4- The ability to find creative solutions: in this crisis we have seen companies leaving their chosen field to produce new products such as a brewer making hydro alcoholic gel.
By focusing your leadership on teams and encouraging live dialogue and transparency, you will play much more collectively and keep their motivation. By communicating more, not only on the work itself but also on the feelings, it will make you more authentic and more human. You will thus pay more attention to the mental health of their employees, to the work-life balance
The pandemic has allowed the need for empathetic and transparent leaders to emerge and it is to be hoped that these positive behaviors will continue for the long term. And it is the corporate culture as a whole that needs to be rethought.
Would you like to learn more on how to bring Emotional Intelligence to your organisation? This is the one trait your people need right now. I have the perfect solution for you. Check out the Search Inside Yourself Program.
Alice teaches how to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results.
Alice is a HR executive, coach, mentor, therapist, mindfulness practitioner and teacher, public speaker, animal lover, nature addict, wellbeing advocate, wife, stepmother… or for short just a Human Being.
This is a great opportunity to find out more about how I can help you with your specific issue and ask any questions you may have. Don’t wait any longer and book now.