We have all speculatively talked about what the fourth industrial revolution will mean for the future workplace, but covid-19 is presenting itself now as a major wake-up call when it comes to the ways we live and work.
We are seeing a perfect storm. The pandemic has accelerated our dependency on technology and at the same time, shown that some leaders are missing the crucial capabilities needed when tested by the unexpected. Gaps and disconnects have surfaced, businesses have endured massive disruption and it has clearly underlined how outdated some leadership styles are for the needs of today’s organisations.
In recognition of our own fragility we have seen employers rally to support their people, communities come together to look after the vulnerable and the country unite to thank our frontline workers. We have also rushed to check that our family, friends, and colleagues are safe and well.
Indifference and formality have been replaced with kindness, concern and altruïsm. The ‘always on’ culture has been swapped for making time for ourselves and others.
In making sense of this new normal, we have had to seek out ways to cope, help, and to survive. And we have done that incredibly well by using our intrinsic human skills of collaboration, empathy, communication, and problem solving.
For me, this opens up a valuable opportunity to re-evaluate our leadership models so that we can improve our ways of leading and managing now and in the future. By championing these human qualities in the business setting and embracing the learnings coronavirus has presented, we can build better businesses that are not only doing right by their people, but that are more able to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to economic and productivity outcomes.
Shifting to enablement
Uncertainty is uncomfortable and it has left some leaders outside of their comfort zone. Not only have we all had to move along at the same pace as change, but we have had to try and adapt to the new surroundings which means the need to learn new skills.
If they are not already doing so, then leaders need to switch from micromanaging to enabling. Leaders talk of the importance of empowering their employees, but making sure they have the capability, confidence and resources to get their jobs done is their biggest responsibility here.
Additionally, while health and looking after our employees’ wellbeing has been a top priority for employers, we are now seeing a far profounder need for leaders to demonstrate reassurance and direction. Deep worries about the future of business and job security are mounting and workers are looking to senior executives for signals of hope and cues on what comes next.
A new standard of leadership
Through the coronavirus pandemic we can see that the command and control leadership model does not belong in this era. Organisations that work with this kind of hierarchy are weakened because they are not investing in the skill set most needed to operate in volatile, changeable environments.
We need to reconstruct our very idea of leadership and focus on qualities and attributes that allow us to harness change, maximise opportunities and succeed in turning challenges into possibilities.
Change can be an agent of good and leaders who are prepared to welcome and work with it, will have the upper hand when it comes to making uncertainty work to their advantage.
Leaders need curiosity so they can lean into change. They must be brave so they can take calculated risks and lead their people with authority and they also need to know they are safe in their role and in making the choices and decisions they do when it can impact far and wide.
In coaching, psychological safety is a necessity. The very essence of any form of coaching is anchored in feeling secure and the success of all coaching interventions depends entirely on the level of trust and openness created between the coach and coachee(s). Without that connection and belief, the coachee is automatically disadvantaged because they are not in the space to achieve change.
The same applies in the workplace when it comes down to how well leaders, managers, teams, or individual contributors perform. If they have no real sense of belonging, connection, psychological safety or trust, the potential fallout comes in the form of resistance, disengagement, underperformance, and lower productivity.
Wherever you sit on the organisational chart, psychological safety on all sides has to be a major factor in the behaviours you exhibit and be central to the actions you take to back up your words.
In the Coaching in the Workplace conference you will have the opportunity to hear about the power of safety and how developmental techniques such as coaching and mindfulness are used to transform the capabilities so essential to leading.
As you will learn from Mark McMordie’s presentation, there is a more powerful approach to leading that will play to the best of your strengths, enable you to leverage all of your human skills, deepen your confidence and resilience in the face of change and empower and inspire your people.
Take it and make yourself and those under your leadership, the very best you can be.
Gina Lodge is the CEO of the Academy of Executive Coaching. She has over 20 years’ experience in management and is an accredited executive coach. LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/gina-lodge-6a053a13/