Why leadership will shift during the COVID 19 Crisis

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For/over the last two weeks I have been having some lively discussions with my corporate, executive, and entrepreneur coaching clients. As a result, I could reach several conclusions, as underlying trends: 

  • They all feel pressured due to the unprecedented #uncertainty ahead
  • They are working more on average and they are less productive 
  • The #rhythm of decision making is dazzling and reduces to hours even concerning strategic matters
  • Their teams are scared and tired 
  • They cannot control them anymore 

How do you feel about this ?

As far as I am concerned, it feels like you are in a muddy lake. And to stay afloat, it may be wiser to move less and not fight the currents. 

Even if the health issue might seem like a sprint, the economic consequences are deep and we are looking at a marathon. Burnout is around the corner and being resilient may be the sole priority right now. “So… how do you take care of yourself ?” is the first question you need to think about. 

Then, it is about the #FutureSkills needed to shift the way we lead people. It was clear already that command and control was not working anymore, but this crisis is just about to accelerate the transition. 

Here are 3 mind-shifts we were working on:

1. From Controlling to Trusting  

You and your people are overwhelmed by huge amounts of information. The government is changing the rules of the game from one day to another, the media outlets are selling based on a generalized state of panic and there are fake news proliferating everywhere. You don’t have your teams around as they are Working from Home and everybody has understood this differently. Not to mention that very few had a good practice with this to begin with. Controlling your people has become more challenging and more counterproductive than ever. It has always been the case!

But now it is about time to let go and just Trust your teams. They want to make it work just as much as you do. They see what’s coming, and they would love to help. So shift from controlling to synchronizing. Instead of checking-in to see if they have done the work, make them feel part of the whole thing. Let them co-create and trust them to do it. Observe yourself when you shoot all kinds of ideas to react to what is happening and understand that now, more than ever: “less is more”. Have some synchronizing meetings and be supportive. Supporting them by giving them freedom, autonomy, trust and responsibility will take your team to whole new levels. 

2. From Knowing to Assuming 

Who can pretend to know what will happen and why would leaders do that? It may have worked in clearer times but, even back then, all those plans and projections were mere hypotheses. And this may be just the best time to realise it. 

I believe that the only authentic stance that a leader can take, now, is this: “I don’t really know what’s coming, but let’s fight it together”. This means vulnerability and this means courage. It also means that we admit that we cannot really foresee the future but we can choose an option collaboratively. We would rely on our collective brain to assume a pathway. If done right, this should put less responsibility (pressure on a person’s shoulders), lead to more engagement, more support and collaboration. If there is something that has set us apart as a species it was this …. Collaboration!

3. From Surviving to Striving

I was in a coaching session with a client of mine ( an entrepreneur ). Normally she would be stressed about losing a client. Now most of them are cancelling their engagements and weirdly enough she doesn’t feel the same pressure. Aren’t you feeling the same? This easiness  happens because it is not your fault anymore. 

Suddenly, the number of choices has been reduced and systemically you have two main strategies on your radar. To survive or to strive! You may believe in your power when you are fighting for survival: it is a very strong motivator! But, do you still want to play the game? What do you want to achieve? 

If we pass through all this together we will not just have better chances in surviving, we will thrive. 

Mihai ZANT

Mihai ZANT

Mihai ZANT is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Managing Partner at CoachingAfterSchool.com, Humanistic.ro and CareerShift.ro. Having over 10 years of experience in leading teams and communities he concentrated his work in building Learning Organisations.

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