How a message is delivered matters. Leaders who are respected most communicate in a clear, honest, and compassionate manner acknowledging their vulnerabilities and inspiring people to confidently forge ahead through their own insecurities and worries into the “new world of work.”
People need and crave information and direction. It takes a unique kind of leadership to push against the natural human tendency to either downplay or procrastinate uncertainty. If a leader doesn’t get ahead of an important message and clearly communicate, people will become scared and potentially make up their own dialog; creating further fear and anxiety.
Great challenges still lie ahead, leaders need to focus not on “getting back to normal” but on defining what the new normal is – the “new now.” When radical change occurs; like our sudden disruptive remote workstyles, empathy and flexibility are important leadership qualities. These qualities are even more essential in order to keep teams cohesive, engaged, and motivated.
In a recent publication taken from bcg.com, Jim Hemerling, Julie Kilmann, and Dave Matthews detailed critical people priorities for the new now. Here we focus on one of those priorities—leadership that unites empathy and adaptability by bringing together the three essential elements of head, heart, and hands.
To hone their empathy and ability to adapt, leaders require three elements (see the exhibit):
The head, to envision the future and the priorities required to succeed.
The heart, to inspire and empower employees.
The hands, to ensure innovative and agile-execution capabilities.
LEADERSHIP WITH HEAD, HEART, AND HANDS
Successful organizations will depend on leaders who are as empathetic as they are capable. Technological change makes our world a fast-paced one on any given day, and unexpected circumstances (like a pandemic) force companies and teams to adapt at lightning speed.
While the crisis is frightening and tragic, it also offers valuable lessons. What we learn today about ways of working will be invaluable for years to come, so it is up to leaders to rise to the occasion. Whether they do is a deciding factor in which companies emerge from this crisis stronger than before.