Workplaces are communities, built around the relationships we have with our teams and our peers. The crisis is an opportunity to strengthen those bonds and to redefine what constructive, positive, and empowering workplace interactions look like.
Based on our work with organizations around the world, these are some of the key aspects leaders could focus on to reestablish meaningful connections with their employees and to pave the way for a working culture that brings out the best in everyone:
First, lead with humanity and empathy. Crises are crises because they affect people. It is easy to get caught up in the mechanics of numbers, tasks, goals, and decisions, and to forget about the human aspects of leading. Now is the time to lead with humanity and empathy, to create psychological safety for employees, and to ensure that everyone stays safe, included, and connected. If anything, the crisis is showing us our vulnerability as human beings. As leaders, how deeply attuned are we to what our employees are experiencing? How are we creating an environment where emotions can be shared? And to what extent are we willing to show our own vulnerability?
Second, reinforce your organization’s narrative. Just as you as a leader need to find meaning in adversity, it is critical to help employees envision an inspiring future to work toward and to emphasize an organizational purpose that is worth contributing to, both during the crisis and beyond. Employees want to know why they should continue to show up to work amid such difficult circumstances. Are you explicit about who your organization serves and why this is important, especially now?
Third, inspire others to grow from this experience. Crises are unavoidable. Every human life, every company, and every society will at some point in their existence face a destabilization of existing structures and beliefs. This offers an opportunity to learn new skills, to take risks, to emerge stronger on the other side. For leaders, this is an opportunity to show their generosity in supporting others to grow and develop – and by doing so, promoting a growth mindset culture that is strong and innovative.
During this crisis, leaders as people are tested like never before. Remember to focus on this important measure of leadership: How are you touching the lives of others in a positive way? We are still in the midst of uncertainty. But it would be a terribly good thing to carry this question in your heart: How do you want your leadership during this time to be remembered?