The Covid19 Pandemic gave arguably very little warning as it snuck up behind us all, took us by the scruffs of our necks and gave us a very big shake. It has disrupted not only national and global business at every level, but also our daily lives and activities, to a degree unprecedented on such a vast scale. As well as organisational damage limitation strategies we are also having to prioritise differently how we manage and support our people, our processes and our operations.
There are still so many unknowns as to how the pandemic will affect the long term outlook for everyone, both individually and globally, and as we start to get over the initial shock and create novel ways to adapt to the new normal, there are some practical strategies we can adopt to ensure, as bosses, we are leading effectively and maintaining the right levels of trust and balance within our organisations as we move towards this new frontier of remote, adjustable workaday practices. Here are five tactics to help guide yourself and your teams through this challenging period and beyond:
1. Adapt your vision and strategy and revise them often – Every good leader will have set out a clear vision and strategy for their organisation, however with such drastic change at every level, and with so many constantly changing variables, it is imperative to not only stay aware of how your organisation is being affected, but to continuously adapt your executive decisions and manoeuvres to the fluctuating macro and micro developments – be responsive rather than reactive in your approach.
2. Be decisive – Once a decision has been made, it’s important to commit fully and invest in that decision. As we have seen recently, during times of crisis, indecision can not only be detrimental to progress, it can actually endanger lives. Again, the key focus here should be responsive rather than reactive, and once an issue or solution has been identified and assessed, procrastination should be avoided. Consider how New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (the world’s youngest female head of government) has responded to the Covid19 outbreak. Ardern has gained widespread recognition for her clear-cut strategy of communicating openly and cohesively to her team and the general public from the start, whilst initiating a four-level response system (adapted from a successful fire risk system already in place) expressing clearly what was expected of everyone, in advance, in the event of each escalation level arising (What Good Leadership Looks Like During This Pandemic, Kerrissey & Edmondson, HBR).
3. Replace ‘command and control’ with ‘support and sustain ’ – For a long time I’ve talked about how global leadership is evolving from hierarchical management to a more self-led, risk managed, guided approach (Encouraging Risk Taking – Retaining Top Performers), due, in part, to technology and real-time monitoring & remote work systems blowing the cobwebs away from the more traditional appraisal-based personal development models. This current situation could be an excellent opportunity for individuals to show their future leadership skills, and for you to adapt and integrate your own organisational leadership style successfully into this more modern, innovative direction.
4. Make the wellbeing and trust of your team your priority – Again, we can use Ardern as a great example of how instilling trust in your team, no matter how large that team (or even country) may be, is crucial in successfully leading, implementing change and ascertaining support (as of March 27th a poll showed her government had over 80% of the public’s support). Especially when it comes to remote working, maintaining trust and offering continued and consistent support, as well as regularly checking in on team members to ensure they not only understand what is expected of them, but what they can expect from you, are arguably the most useful tools you can use to ensure the organisation as a whole feels motivated, included and on the same page. “Begin remote meetings with acknowledging everyone in the virtual room, not just those with high status or privilege. Make it a point to acknowledge the unprecedented situation we’re all in before you dive into agenda items. It’s important for leaders to set the tone by sharing our own challenges or vulnerabilities” [by creating an open an honest dialogue] (How to Be an Inclusive Leader Through a Crisis – Tulshyan, HBR).
5. Lead and inspire others to join you in creating positive change – When you find something is working well for your team and organisation, make sure to share these experiences. We are in the middle of a huge unfolding global story that we are not only each playing a crucial role in at his unique time, but that we are shaping and forging together. It has never been more evident that global business, society and our natural environment is so fundamentally interconnected now that our future survival depends on cooperation, shared knowledge and collaborative change, and Crisis Management has never been more important.
It’s crucial that we adopt a more responsive and collaborative rather than reactive and competitive approach as we navigate forward, and recalibrate our own manoeuvres regularly to ensure we not only stay up to date and are able to adapt more fluidly to continuous change, but also to ensure we are able to move more flexibly alongside, and in cooperation with, our partners, clients and service users.
Alma Sheren is Marketing and Communications Lead at Greenacre Recruitment, and collaborates with the team and wider network on Leadership, Human Resources, Change Management issues and the challenges and transitions currently facing the UK housing sector.
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