Wondering what a new age leader has to do with covid? Hasn’t this one virus changed many perceptions we had about life, both personally and professionally.The question most leaders are facing today is: How to move forward from here? The uncertainty glooming around us is that opportunity to learn and relearn many things. As a leader in this crisis you need to have a clear strategic approach: purpose, stakeholders and bigger picture.
We knew our purpose or at least some of us before covid times, the role change or a growth path with in the organisation. But it’s time to relook at it, is it just enough to move up the ladder or there are fundamental things at cultural level you may want to reflect upon. Especially dealing with your stake holders.
The customer who is always right approach now needs to be relooked at the customer who is always safe. Vaccine might be out for Covid in coming months, but the safety of your customer and protecting them when your business is vulnerable needs introspection. Because when you are vulnerable and uncertain the customer /stake holders will look around for more options.
And finally, the bigger picture, today an employee or a stake holder is going to look up to you when you are seen as someone who wants to bring in some change at community level. How you can make that impact, it could be as small as creating awareness about covid. The positivity and the intention to make an impact , even at tough times will be looked up by your teams.
Every step involves choices that are tough to make even in good times, let alone in uncertain ones, but the same instincts and actions that will see us through this current global crisis will also make us stronger as we face longer-term challenges. Equally important is to empower the right teams. We know the pros and cons of WFH, paycuts and uncertainty, what next can be even more demanding. Here are few behavioral and perception level changes you can adopt quickly if you haven’t already to become a new age leader:
Your team needs you in this uncertain time, they are worried too. Just being there is not enough, it is important to connect and speak out. Speak to them and tell them the truth and the degree of uncertainty but with a positive outlook. Be sensitive and learn to identify your teams’ emotions even if they are unable to speak out. Share your views based of their emotions not just at transactional level.
Bond with the team
By now we know bonding is not just having meal together or going for lunch/dinner celebrations. It’s time we bond at personal level, know your team’s families, their hobbies, their EMI’s. Obviously asking them these questions will sound intruding but not bonding will not. Plan for an online lunch meet with family to start with.
Give time off over a mood swing
Yes, you heard it right, give off time over a mood swing. When you realise your team members are having a gloomy day may be a fight at home or a breakup, which you will know if you bond well. Do give them time off to spend with themselves or however they wish to spend. You may even spot them in a movie theatre on the day off given for mood swing. Remember not to judge them, we all have our own ways to heal.
Talk about their career not their stint in the present organization
Tell them the truth, don’t be a leader who wants the best teams to stick around until he/she is around. Many leaders constantly motivate teams to stick with the organization and the moment the leader finds a new job, all this perception changes. This is very contradicting, instead when a team member asks for career advice always give them a bigger picture. They will stay with you / organaisaiton until they want to stay. Especially during this uncertain times , this will go a long way.
Watch out the example you are setting
It is not just enough to advice on being organized or talking about having a balanced life. You need to show this to your team with your actions. Let them know what psychical exercise you adopt, your lifestyle and your balanced life between work and family. Remember only when you open up about your life and talk about your family, challenges or fear your team will also do.
Be open about your fears
We all have fears isn’t it? But sometime as a leader we are not very comfortable to share with the team. Because we might look weak or vulnerable, the fact is your team needs to know your fears and how you deal with them. Unless they know how you work around your not so positive side, they are not having a complete picture. This will encourage them to speak up about their fears at workplace and you can work along with them as a team to overcome.
At the end remember, people stay back in an organization with many challenges only to work with a leader they look up to. As an organization create such leaders and as leaders create such teams.