Regardless of whether you lead a team of 15 or 1,500 employees, the crisis has broadened the boundaries of our workplaces and requires that every specialist thinks outside the box.
Increase your business, Not your inbox
Stay up to date and subscribe to our daily newsletter now!
Read for 5 min
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
In the United States, almost every non-essential company, large and small, was forced to move away. This puts people in leadership positions in a unique place. As academic director of the Columbia Executive M.S. In the technology management program, I interact and coach hundreds of aspiring managers every year. The global health crisis has made the leadership skills we impart more important than ever.
Related topics: How to reduce loneliness and strengthen belonging to work
Despite what you may have heard, leadership is not innate: it can be taught. If you have difficulty leading your team during this pandemic, here is a summary of my advice with the help of some successful students and alumni.
An increase in news consumption and the search for information are common psychological responses to a crisis. On a global level, we see governments holding daily press conferences and driving information sharing. It is important that managers also maintain the flow of information. EMSTM graduate Sam Wilmot, now vice president of strategic programs at Xerox, says this idea kept her team going.
Wimot recommends increasing the number of check-ins that you would normally do with your employees. She says it is important to take into account that there are no “water cooler moments” where information is exchanged or connections are made spontaneously and that this can lead to a feeling of isolation in your team. Try to maintain or even increase the number of check-ins among employees during the third month of work from home. Even if you don't have new sharing information, a simple "hello" can sometimes go a long way.
Relatives: Who are your "friends"? Inclusive tour starts with your social circles
Be clear and calm
There are many legitimate reasons for business leaders to feel cautious in this unprecedented time, but it is important to pass hope on to employees who may feel lost. Wimot's advice: try not to discharge too much and stay as bright and positive as possible – and stay realistic. People look for signs and signals for the developing situation. Be strong, but be honest and always authentic.
To do this effectively, emotional intelligence is crucial. Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, control and express one's emotions and to deal with interpersonal relationships in a sensible and sensitive manner. It should be in every manager's repertoire. The skills required to succeed in a leadership position, such as emotional intelligence, can be learned and perfected through daily practice. Good leaders remember that each employee under their leadership is unique and can see how they can interact with each person to maximize efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction.
Related: A short guide to turning black entrepreneurs into entrepreneurs
This crisis has forced us to familiarize ourselves with ambiguities. Laura Kudia, one of my current students and new chief of staff at American Express, says this is a skill that has become particularly practical for them. Before enrolling in the EMSTM program, Kudia worked in the media industry for a decade. Your shift to financial services was a complete career shift. The program gave her "tools in the toolbox" – a combination of hard and soft skills – and taught her to speak the language of technical managers. It also taught her something equally important: being ready to adapt to new situations and learning from it quickly and efficiently.
As chief of staff of the department's CIO, who oversees global risk and technological change, Laura's job is to be a translator for the organization. She must speak to the mission and challenges and communicate them to her direct reports. Of course, this has brought about a lot of spontaneous adjustments at the moment. For example, the entire onboarding was remote. Of course, it wasn't ideal, but managers need to be able to adapt to unforeseen challenges with grace and flexibility. She attributes the ability to do this confidently to her weekly sessions with her mentor in Columbia, but says it is now time for all leaders to use their beliefs.
Leadership is a timeless skill that is being tested more than ever today. Regardless of whether you are leading a team of 15 or 1,500 employees, the crisis has broadened the boundaries of our workplaces and requires every specialist to think outside the box. Wilmot and Kudia are two examples of leaders who are making progress in these uncertain times. If companies want to be successful in the coming weeks and months, they should follow their example and re-examine what it means to be an effective leader.
Related topics: How to deploy investor updates in the right way