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The Financial Express

Leadership in the age of Covid-19

| Updated: August 13, 2020 13:20:51


Leadership in the age of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic introduced an extraordinary challenge for the leaders. It has compelled organisations to look into employee productivity and motivation from a very different perspective. Previously what was more dependent on the materialistic factors, during this age of Covid-19, people are observing that different non-materialistic factors are being popped up as vital elements influencing employee experience.

Organisations didn't have a choice when this pandemic started back in January. To keep businesses up and running, an increasing number of companies asked their employees to work remotely to secure the health and safety of their workforce. Enabling a major workforce virtually and getting the best out of them is something people have never experienced before. So, employers needed to rethink and redesign their strategies around employee motivation to adapt to these uncertainties.

It is worth mentioning that with the introduction of a flexible way of working, trust becomes one of the most important factors influencing employee experience. A relationship built on trust between the employee and manager is vital in enhancing the overall satisfaction of the workforce. Leaders must adapt to this new situation built on trust and confidence rather than on face to face contact and management. Managers need to learn how to effectively inspire and enable remote teams. They need to be dynamic and follow the most efficient manner to encourage people to go beyond.

Even in the ordinary times, it is tough to earn and gain the trust of the people. In unprecedented time like this, it is even more critical to build a trustworthy relationship that exhibits true intention of the organisation and let workforce understand that they are in the centre of the attention. But leaders have to take these challenges and achieve the trust of their people. The more confidence they will have in the leadership, the more motivated they'll be to follow their lead.

As trust is one of the key factors influencing workforce in this challenging time, leaders need to put coordinated efforts to grow and sustain it. Establishing personal connection with the team can be listed as the most important way to build this. During this age of social distancing, we have technology and tools to stay connected. Leaders need to show interest in people and devote some personal time to ask and hear how they are doing and feeling. They need to listen to concerns and respect other states without judgment. Secondly, leaders need to be authentic, consistent and reliable. They need to share all the information straight forwardly. They need to be realistic and honest when they commit anything and should not exaggerate or understate any situation. Lastly, leaders need to be compassionate and kind. Kindness creates a sense of safety which people need much during this critical time. Leaders need to understand that coping to this situation will not be same for everyone and they have to demonstrate patience and support to them who need it.

The feelings of anxiety and fear hold one back from doing things one wants or needs to do, and it also affects one's health, a state of mind that makes employees unsettled and unproductive. However, experience tells us that good leaders by building confidence and trust can not only overcome this chaos but thrive in the face of it.

Visionary leaders enable their people to go beyond and help organisations to emerge from this crisis as a better, stronger and more resilient one.

The writer is working as the project lead of Digital Employee Experience and People Analytics at Telenor ASA. Previously, he was working as head of Information and Analytics in HR at Grameenphone Ltd. He can be reached at saeed2562@gmail.com

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