In crises, leadership roles involve both familiar and new and specific responsibilities. From the experience of our clients, when circumstances are changed by the pandemic, we feel that now more than before, it is important to implement some clear principles as leaders which would lead us and by which we could react consistently and wisely.

We summarize 5 key insights for leaders today:

  1. Establish a time and communication structure of work

People react differently and therefore need a structure that helps them keep their direction. Agree on weekly and daily work schedules for the entire team, individual workgroups, as well as communication methods, i.e. conference call or platform use. It is preferable that everyone has camera access. The whole team should agree on how the conversation will flow and how both the group and individual issues will be handled in the team. It’s not easy to change your way of working after years of office work, but still, try to create a new routine.

  1. Contact team members frequently

In these circumstances, the speed of action is crucial. When talking to candidates, coaching clients and leaders, we notice that there is less room for being concerned about others. Sometimes it just isn’t spoken. Let the interview prompts be official, but make sure to start and end them with questions about how a team member feels and talk about it. Employees need a leader who shows interest and understands them. Keep calm and show empathy. Remember beautiful events together; give a small dose of humor, no matter how difficult it is. Also, in group discussions, allow everyone to share a personal detail, and encourage cheerful team members to share positive insights and optimism. Engage in conversation at least 10 minutes before the formal meeting, talk about informal topics and share personal stories.

  1. Stay pragmatic

The essence of business and economy must be maintained at every opportunity, even extraordinary. We are here to work for the benefit of the organization, and therefore for our benefit. Let the expectations of work, effort and production of practical benefits be unambiguous. Set this modus to the team, as an opportunity for members to sharpen each other’s focus and set expectations through mutual support and collaboration. Let a style of work where anyone with a question also offers their version of the answer and proposes a solution for the perceived challenge, still be preferred. Enable discussion, but focus on concrete outcomes and practical conclusions. Make specific suggestions and let other team members do the same. This has proven to be a good tool for leaders in practice!

  1. Don’t lose your vision and the bigger picture

Your task remains the same – to bring people together and share a vision of what you do and how you will work with them. Share the meaning of being and working together. In times of personal insecurity, people are expected to think and care more about themselves and their interests. The job of a leader is to provide an image of team and unity at work, now perhaps more than before. In addition to discussing the present, topics of future work and development must have a legitimate place. No matter how uncertain and bleak the future may seem, a vision must exist. No need to invent and beautify it, it is enough to at least send a message about the short-term vision and that change is an integral part of life and work. Conversations about change and conversations about crises are preceded by new great views of the world and us in it. This approach is extremely effective with experienced people because otherwise, they have a slight sense of meaninglessness.

  1. Allow and inspire the free choice of topics in remote conversations

In addition to existing plans, team members will have suggestions for new projects that you could start or initiate. Allow topics for work improvement, even the discussions about what might change when you all return to office mode. Some of the changes in remote work will surely become a standard even when we get back to our old job. The free candidacy of topics has a positive effect on people’s motivation, as they have the urge to contribute constructive proposals in extraordinary circumstances. Thereby, the mission of the organization is strengthened and perhaps redefined.

The team needs a new routine, but it also doesn’t want the days to resemble each other, because self-isolation is difficult enough for everyone. Think about how you can change the way we work, what spices we can add without disrupting productivity. Find a way to have fun too: having lunch at the same time in the virtual world can resemble the shared one, and drinks can be fun in virtual teaming.

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