This month we share with you key insights and experiences expressed by senior leaders during our exclusive Global Webinar event. As we approach a critical turning point from pandemic to post pandemic, now is the time to apply shared learnings on how to cultivate a thriving team environment. Important now, and mission essential for the coming 12 months, all agreed that the call for leaders is to strike a balance of three key skills: Psychological Safety, Empathy and Agility.
The Serious Issues Leaders Face Post-Pandemic
As we navigate our way through the post-pandemic turning point, we risk remaining short sighted and unprepared. Public and political opinion remains pre-pandemic, but vaccination progress and economic movement signifies the start of a post pandemic society.
The tipping point for each country will vary and gaps will emerge: Vaccine distribution isn’t equal across nations, and digital and economic gaps are likely to have negative societal ramifications. Resource-rich countries who are out of the pandemic may forget to help those on a slower timeline to post-pandemic renewal.
At work, it’s time to re-energize the organization. Reduced social cues, as we have been hidden in calls and virtual meetings, mean that authentic opinions have been missed. Leaders need to start investing in resources and acting in a “post-pandemic way” to shape business culture and support employee engagement – this time, with a twist. It’s time for leaders to start a journey into something bigger. As an example, many video platforms will require technological evolution, as they are not fully accessible to the hearing or sight-impaired.
We’re all familiar with this skill, but we haven’t really used it to its full power in the workplace.
In a climate of increased reliability, we all share the same problem, and we are more likely to reach out to our peers when the going gets tough. This mutual acceptance for each other grows human response and increases empathy. Key to remember is that the ability to make contributions and share thoughts differs from person to person.
With exhaustion and mental health at the forefront of everyone’s mind, society has collectively begun to acknowledge that, “It’s okay not to be okay”.
Homeworking for many also means that people are “at work” at all times. On the other side of the spectrum, the disconnect between those on site and those at home can create perceptions of reduced responsibility of those who remain at home. Navigating the changing perceptions and different mindsets is a key challenge that can only be solved with open communication.
Keith Leslie, Chair of Samaritans: What are the issues Leaders face Post-Pandemic?
Cultivating and Environment that Kick Starts Growth
EXPERIMENTATION MINDSET – REMOVE PERFECTIONISM: Safety and trust are essential for leaders and teams to open up, take risks and
experiment. Sharing emotions increases psychological safety and reduces defensiveness.
TODAY YOU ARE THE YOUNGEST YOU WILL EVER BE: Listen to your team’s passions and purpose, don’t wait for things to “return to normal”, encourage them to act now, and to remember that today is the youngest any of us will ever be.
EMPOWER THE “GENERATIVE ORGANIZATION”: Tune down the “pathological organization” (power oriented) , limit the “bureaucratic organization” (rule-oriented) and empower the “generative organization” (performance-oriented).
Be a Listener – Ensure those around you understand the state of the organization and everyone in it. A reciprocal relationship must be encouraged: Leaders will need to provide a forum to listen, and team members will need to speak up to be heard. Once
conflict leads to reconciliation, both parties can better address issues and find ways to work together to build a brighter future.
Be Open – Due to the variety of human experience there will be those that hope to return to pre-pandemic life, while others will be open to keep the benefits of the changes COVID has brought. We need to capitalize on the best of both “pre- and post-pandemic life“. Bear in mind that when people are working remotely, it can be less obvious that they are suffering.
Actions and relevant measures from the top are needed to create a safe and open environment that can bring positive outcomes.
Be Communicative – Develop the ability to create a shared reality through discussion. In this way, when issues arise,
multiple minds can be put together to address them. You need a framework of guiding principles the organization adheres to, and people that can share their thoughts concerning whether the organization is adhering to them. It’s time to develop an
‘Agile Team’–based on aligning the right skillsets and commonality of interests–to drive both efficiency and engagement.
Be Vulnerable – Create an environment where people care for one another and openly share how they feel and what is going on in their world. Use your leadership role to advocate for and model the working norms that will support mental wellbeing – in ways that have meaningful impact, based on dialogue and input from your team. Don’t underestimate the impact of the last year on the team and the possible consequences.
Which Leadership Capabilities do we need to enhance?
Leader Mindsets & Skills
Essential now is to see through the myths of our time and stay true to ourselves through the changes ahead. Regaining trust and aligning on your own personal vision, the team’s vision and the organization’s vision is vital to move forward and avoid stagnation. A shared common
thread enables those around you to know you have their best interests at heart – thus the foundation has been set and acceleration will begin.
- Be transparent, making sure information is available to all
- Be clear that individuals can take ownership of their approach to work and decisions
- Model and share learning from our own mistakes
- Set aside 2-4 hours per week of time away from calls to think, plan and strategize
- Keep an open mind and keep your options open
Listening to understand rather than listening to answer – This is especially hard over online video platforms. Zoom can be exhausting on the brain. Listening via phone and centring on one sense can help focus and improve listening skills. Listening and humble inquiry has become vital in our context of
Relationship Building – It is difficult to get people to participate and speak up
about their problems. Many are avoiding sincerity, as they currently lack the tools and skills to deal with everything that they have experienced this year. It is your duty to be an example and an aspiration to encourage open and non-judgemental speech. Be a role model.
Evolving the way we function – Outcome has now taken priority over output. Occasional 1:1 meetings on a bench outside or “Walk & Talks” could help balance the new dynamics as we were forced to go online. Since we will soon go back to the old ways of human interaction, our roles in the office or organization will not stay the same. To maintain stability, we need very well-structured routines.
Mental Health Conscious Culture – Every line manager should be equipped in supporting therapeutic action amongst peers. Teams need to spend time sharing how they are feeling, not only about the current work problems they are dealing with. Experiment with implementing ‘Reverse Mentoring’, allowing senior leaders to understand the perspectives of junior staff about the working context.
How can leaders create an environment for their people to be successful?
About the Author:
Geetu’s motivating factor for being a leading change agent was not just academic; it was personal. Diagnosed with cancer over 25 years ago, she recognised the things in her life that were holding her back and making her sick and made the necessary changes to realise a different outcome.
One of Geetu’s key passions is to equip people to develop the skills and capabilities of working with emotional intelligence in their own arenas of work in these very challenging times. She is a qualified trainer of two pioneering accreditations in coaching tools for HR Professionals, coaches, and change agents – Team Emotional Intelligence Survey and Emotional Resilience Awareness Survey.
Geetu is also a published author, her book ‘Emotional Resilience: how to be agile, adaptable and always perform at your best (Pearson: London) is a definitive, comprehensive, and practical guide that deeply explores the subject of emotional intelligence.
Ei World – Provides over 21 years of experience in executive and team development, having helped C-Level executives and large teams from companies in 45 countries to achieve growth by coaching Emotional Intelligence, Resilience, and Team Effectiveness to help them gain a competitive advantage.
Team Ei’s mission is to lift the client’s team dynamic and culture to the highest level through understanding the need for emotional intelligence and helping to cultivate it through building safety, trust, innovation, and a desire to improve continuously.
Business and digital transformation require human transformation. We help you enable the power of your people ~ Ei World ~