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  • Writer's pictureDr. Vera Alves

Leading During COVID-19

For over a year now, COVID-19 has been changing the way that we approach just about everything. Every single day, we are all struggling to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. Leaders around the world are faced with unfamiliar and poorly understood problems and have had to make decisions amid great uncertainty. The ability to adapt and change fast has never been more necessary.


Technology to Manage Employees

A fast pace of acceleration in the use of technology to manage employees is already a reality in many companies.[1] According to a study by Gartner, including over 3,000 knowledge workers and their managers and 75 HR leaders, as much as 69% of tasks that have historically been under the responsibility of managers might soon be implemented by different kinds of software, including AI-enabled tools.[1] Companies have invested in new technologies to monitor remote work employees, and different types of software are already being used for scheduling activities, auditing tasks, etc.[1] This brings an extra threat to more transactional leaders whose focus is more on controls, tasks, organization, and accomplishing the job that needs to be done. If most of their work might soon be automated, what is the real contribution that they will bring to the table in the future?

A Call for more Transformational Leaders Organizations need leaders who can help guide their teams through these challenging times. The ability to establish trust, promote collaboration among team members, effectively communicate one’s vision, direction, and changes, delegate responsibilities, and encourage employee development are some of the most sought-after characteristics of leaders in moments of crisis. There is a call for leadership skills found in more transformational leaders, which we elaborated on in a previous post. In this article, we examine three characteristics of transformational leaders that can make a huge difference in moments of crisis: authenticity, transparency, and the ability to promote innovation.


Authenticity

Transformational leaders are authentic, and this requires that leaders demonstrate transparent values and emotions, put their ego aside, and act in an unbiased way when assessing information.[2] It’s important that you invest in self-awareness. Always remember that no one wants to be led by someone who is perceived as “fake” in their leadership roles. By being authentic, you will effectively establish buy-in with your employees, which will instill confidence in your ideas.


Transparency and Frequent Updates

According to Amy Edmondson, transparency is ‘job one’ for leaders in a crisis[3], and it is fundamental to inspire your team. Lack of transparency negatively impacts trust, and the direct result is low sharing of information, ideas, and opinions. A direct consequence is a decrease in the levels of innovation, talent retention, and productivity. Being transparent requires being open and honest about your vision and the process. Be clear about “what you know, what you don’t know, and what you are doing to learn more”.[3] Communicate, communicate, communicate! Thoughtful and frequent communication demonstrates how you are following the situation and adjusting your actions accordingly.[3]


Be Innovative and Change the Way You Do Things

In these unprecedented times, changes in customers’ behaviors have forced companies to be creative about new offerings and channels of distribution. Innovative ideas are crucial! At the core of transformational leadership, there is a distinct drive towards innovation and change. Not only are transformational leaders creative themselves, but they also promote a psychologically safe environment for their teams to discuss ideas, suggest changes, collaborate, and innovate. Be prepared to deal with mistakes and to adapt rapidly. Re-think the way things have always been done and force yourself and your team to think outside the box. Be open to change and embrace disruption.

How authentic, transparent, and innovative do you perceive leaders to be after the impact of COVID-19? Leave a comment here or send us an email at info@leaderessentialsgroup.com.


Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. She possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.

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[1] Krop, B., Cambon, A., & Clark, S. (2021). What does it mean to be a manager today? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from What Does It Mean to Be a Manager Today? (hbr.org) 04/16/2021. [2] Desyatnikov, R. (2020). Management in crisis: the best leadership style to adopt in times of crisis. FORBES. Retrieved from Management In Crisis: The Best Leadership Style To Adopt In Times Of Crisis (forbes.com) 04/16/2020. [3] D’Auria, G. & De Smet, A. (2020). Leadership in a crisis: responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from Leadership in a crisis: Responding to coronavirus | McKinsey 04/16/21.

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