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Leadership Effectiveness In Crises









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What a time to be a leader.

How do you work effectively in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic?

What are your priorities?

What do you need to plan for in the next 4-12 weeks, the last quarter of the year and 2021?

These are the conversations we have been having with leaders and managers over the last few weeks.

It is clear that for managers and leaders, organisational disruption is the key component to tackle. Maximising the output of a virtual or interrupted workforce is a priority, while also considering the mental and physical challenges of the pandemic on themselves and their teams.

Now that a large percentage of the workforces are conducting business from their homes - or will be forced to do so soon – it is worth reminding ourselves of best practice for managing and leading during a crisis. 

The impact of differing managerial efforts was researched by Marian Preda and Oana Mara Stan from the University of Bucharest, they analysed how effective the management styles and attitudes of 219 managers in the public and corporate sector were during crises, interviewing them over a 7-year period. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, the authors found that managers and leaders tend to adopt more authoritarian management styles during periods of unrest and crisis. 

They are forced to make authoritarian decisions based on restructuring, downsizing and budget cuts, but authoritarian leadership style smothers employees’ sense of initiative, self-determination and empowerment. 

Managers who were able to provide appropriate and sensitive managerial support were able to counter employee disengagement, organisational de-identification and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.  

They initiated coping strategies in employees focused on assertiveness, remaining open to new experiences and enhancing flexibility and were able to still focus on their employees' professional success and development, even when confronted by the need to downsize or let go of staff.

The authors of this paper found that ongoing crises necessitate the need to balance new-found autocratic-leaning styles with more democratic decision-making styles.

Watch this fun video (4 minutes) about different leadership styles.

 

Importantly, for managers and leaders to provide effective leadership, the research found that they needed support through updated and relevant training in communication, negotiation and conflict arbitration skills as well as time and stress management. 

One big take away was the impact of empathy fatigue on performance, due to emotional and physical exhaustion through taking on their teams’ problems as their own during crises.

EBW Global View

Given this research, how can leaders best support themselves and their employees over the next 4 to 12 weeks and the rest of the year and 2021?

With businesses being stretched and many employees working from home or finding their work schedule interrupted, where should your focus be in the short, medium and long term?

At EBW Global, we believe that there are 8 simple Business Emotionally Intelligent steps you can take to keep people remaining engaged, focused and productive during this time:

  1. Learn to respond and not react
    Have a plan. Not only for the business operations but for your people interactions and yourself.

  1. Conquer communication barriers
    Learn your teams’ communication strengths and weaknesses. Assess their understanding of their role in this period and clarify any ambiguity as soon as possible.

  2. Be alert to non-verbal communication
    Identify any behavioural changes among your team in order to recognise potential problems before they arise. Check in with employees regularly to assure them of their value and encourage productivity.

  3. Ask for help
    Leaders must demonstrate an immediate grasp of the situation to keep confidence in the hierarchy, business and in you. However, remember to seek advice from experts within and outside of your teams (Peers, Coaches, Mentors etc.). Confidence does not guarantee success.

  4. Learn from experience
    Rely on past events. What approaches worked and what didn’t? While no situation may entirely match the challenges you currently face, together they will provide a broader picture of how to keep the business moving forward.

  5. Remain decisive and adaptable
    The importance of maintaining flexibility during a crisis period cannot be understated, but do not let this stop you from making decisions in a timely manner.

  6. Project honesty, confidence and positivity
    Your team will react to your body language and tone of voice. Be honest, but positive. Your team will appreciate frankness but will rely on your confidence if they are to perform well.

  7. Care for your own well-being
    Look after yourself physically and mentally. 

Following these simple steps will make a transformational difference to your leadership and career. Changing how people work together is the single most powerful and cost-effective way leaders can bring performance breakthroughs. 

If you need your leaders and teams to have a restart and a behavioural shift then check out EBW Global Developing Leadership Capability in Times of Change Programme.

It is based on using Business Emotional Intelligence blended with practical research and Daniel Goleman’s leadership model to provide a rich, research-based framework to build the skills, capabilities and financial potential of an organisation’s talent.

To find out more about our online programmes or how Business Emotionally Intelligence assessments and tools can help you, contact a certified EBW Global Partner or book a EBW Discovery Call to start a conversation.

 

 

 


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