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BW Businessworld

How Should Leaders TALK During Crisis: Key Takeaways From The Great Pandemic

Open communication signals your intentions to the wider world, instilling confidence and goodwill among stakeholders who share your principles.

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‘We are one’ is truer than ever before.

Faced with an unprecedented health crisis that has transcended boundaries - geographical, economic and social, we are swept in a sea of uncertainty, struggling to find our footing. Leadership in times like these often dictate the legacy a leader leaves behind, impacting the psyche of the nation for centuries. The question most leaders are facing, then, is this: How do we move forward in such uniquely uncertain circumstances? Positive, effective  leadership  helps us navigate crisis, rebuild communities, and forge ahead in moments of ambiguity. But with so many challenges colliding at once, many leaders may be struggling to chart a clear way forward.

A structured approach is communicating effectively with - Transparency, Accessibility, Listening and Keeping in touch - summarized with the acronym ‘TALK’ can infuse a breath of fresh confidence, energy & panache in teams leaders and their managerial capabilities.

Transparency:

We are currently devoid of the opportunity to physically interact with colleagues or teams, sharing woes and triumphs over a cup of tea, which effortlessly builds trust and a sense of camaraderie. The current scenario has led to a lot of uncertainty in the environment, with respect to business sustainability and job security. If these concerns are not addressed properly in an organization, it can lead to resentment, and often dissent.

Therefore, leaders helming an organization should consider adopting transparency as a guiding principle in all their communication and decision making. Transparent leadership is the key to fostering a culture of trust between leaders and their employees. Employees who are kept in the loop and understand their role in the overarching purpose and goals of the company are more likely to put their trust in their employer.

Open communication signals your intentions to the wider world, instilling confidence and goodwill among stakeholders who share your principles. In times of change, workers, consumers, and investors alike will gravitate toward organizations whose purpose reflects their personal values and beliefs.

Accessibility:

Practicing emotional intelligence is critical in these times. As communication is forced to become fragmented with video calls and texts, at the mercy of volatile network connections, reaffirmation is imperative. Leaders must go beyond lip service in terms of open door policies, and instead, make a conscious effort to reach out to their teams. Responding with agility across all mediums will curb fear and doubt within people’s minds and ensure smooth navigation. It is important to be approachable and have two-way conversations, where one feels heard and valued. Leaders are the link to cohesive communication, and must thus showcase this by bringing about a shift in the style of communication. Rather than instructions, we must encourage healthy discussions and encourage suggestions. Simply feeling heard raises, a person’s self-worth, and makes them feel like a part of the community even while operating remotely, thus alleviating fear and doubt.

Listen:

Perhaps this is one trait that remains relevant at all times. Listening with intent shows empathy and promotes a sense of psychological security. Leaders must be sensitive to the needs of unique socio- cultural dynamics at play across different communities, while identifying the needs - especially the vulnerable ones. Leaders must prioritize how they can serve them most effectively, from short-term decisions - to continue operations at a time of physical distancing, to long-term considerations - employees’ equity for retirement. 

Effective listening can also serve as a learning curve for leaders - leverage others’ strengths and learn from their experiences, which in turn can help them take well-informed decisions.

Keep in touch:

Successful leadership relies on a manager’s adaptive capacity, and resilient leaders must work on changing their operational methods to maintain fortitude during a prolonged crisis. Regularly checking up on teams and their well-being can do wonders on the psyche and self-esteem of employees. Sharing personal experiences is a great way to level the playing ground and help the workforce feel regarded.

Capitalize on opportunities for more positive interactions that will help your workforce to feel connected, particularly if you’re working remotely. Share in some of the frustrations of social distancing and moments of levity, such as missing cake during birthday celebrations. In doing so, you are showing that in these extraordinary times we are all members of a community doing our collective best to navigate uncharted waters.

Your team is the one who drives and measures your success, particularly when success feels elusive, recommitting to them can galvanize the trust, confidence, and morale required to forge ahead. Leaders who practice the TALK leadership traits, can ensure that their team stays confident, positive, and most importantly experiences mental wellness, thus building long-term resilience in the face of COVID-19.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Gitesh Karnik

Chief People Officer, PayNearby

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