During times of adversity, leaders are expected to offer guidance and navigate their team through challenging times, but given the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, how can we lead in a manner that will inspire hope, instil confidence and sustain productivity? Co-Creation’s COVID-19 Leadership Model has been designed to offer guidance on how to lead during this challenging period, focusing on five core areas: Communication, Opportunity, Visibility, Innovation and Downtime. Communication is a core trait for a leader; communicative efforts must be sustained during the current pandemic, to maintain client relations, manage staff morale and convey professional expectations. Current circumstances have presented leaders with an opportunity to remould their leadership edge and become the leader that they want to be. For instance, recent developments will prompt leaders to make changes to company practice, learn new skills, become more resilient and motivate their workforce. However, in doing so, they must maintain Visibility. With social distancing and self-isolation prohibiting companies from meeting in-person, there are alternatives such as video calls that can be used to liaise with clients and offer support for staff. Innovation is a key for companies wishing to maintain visibility and incorporating an innovative mindset can enable leaders and their colleagues to sustain progress, rather than regress during COVID-19. Current circumstances increase the existing challenges affiliated with being a leader, therefore, Downtime is pivotal to negate the likelihood of burnout and diminished work amongst a workforce.
COVID-19 Leadership Model
How to lead effectively during the Coronavirus pandemic
During times of adversity, leadership is considered an inspirational trait, particularly during instances such as COVID-19.
Therefore, the necessary measures must be implemented to facilitate peak performance within your team.
Co-Creation’s COVID-19 Leadership Model has been designed to offer guidance on how to lead effectively during this unfamiliar period.
Effective communication is essential when expressing ideas to a team and sharing valuable information with a wider audience.
Maintaining Communication with Your Team During COVID-19
Despite current restrictions imposed by social distancing and self-isolation, there are contingencies that leaders have put in place to sustain communication.
Video platforms have been invaluable for leaders and workers in maintaining communication; the estimated net worth of Zoom’s founder has increased by more than $4bn since the coronavirus crisis started, with many recognising the importance of continuing communication.
Moreover, with the effects of coronavirus on mental health falling under the microscope, communication between leaders and staff is paramount.
Research by The University of Sheffield revealed that 38% of study participants reported significant depression and 36% reported significant anxiety. This indicates that leaders must make themselves accessible and engage with their staff to boost morale, reduce anxiety and improve productivity.
While company targets are variable, certain goals will remain the same.
Communication plays a fundamental role in the completion of goals, and leaders must convey strategies to their team to complete tasks successfully.
Moreover, with the vast majority now working remotely, leaders must also reaffirm renewed expectations and principles. In many instances, new setups will mean that the team needs to operate differently.
During this period, a leader needs to maximise the potential of their team. Every employee will have areas whereby they can flourish and spotting opportunities can maximise output, mitigate risk and enhance the customer experience.
COVID-19 has presented a window of opportunity whereby senior figures can assess their style of leadership and remodel themselves as the leader that they want to be.
Many leaders will make changes to company practice, learn new skills, become more resilient and motivate their workforce.
While leaders are continually assessing their team and considering the tools at their disposal, COVID-19 presents an opportunity for leaders to engage with their team.
The pandemic has prompted leaders to consider what strengths can be identified through communicative methods including coaching, deep listening or interactive feedback.
In providing bespoke advice for members of their team, leaders can develop and train employees and prompt enhanced performance, whilst simultaneously refining their leadership edge.
Social distancing and self-isolation have had an impact on how a business operates, with workers being told to work from home.
While leaders cannot lead in a conventional sense, there are alternative means in which they can stay visible within their respective sector.
Maintaining Visibility Via Video Conferencing
Businesses are feeling the effects of not being able to converse with their clients and colleagues in-person.
To combat these challenges, many are acknowledging the benefits of video conferencing and maintaining their overall visibility.
While some may not be accustomed to using technology and prefer to speak on the telephone, face-to-face communication is deemed as the more preferable option.
Human communication consists of 93% body language and paralinguistic cues, while just 7% consists of words. Video conferencing allows people to interpret facial expressions and decipher subtleties and non-verbal signals conveyed during a video call, while telephone calls are purely auditory.
Moreover, face-to-face visibility offered when communicating via video call is often greater received by a client.
In a survey by Forbes, 84% of participants preferred face-to-face communication. Of those, 85% indicated that it builds more meaningful business relationships. Additionally, respondents also said that face-to-face meetings are best for persuasion (91%), leadership (87%), and engagement (86%).
How Can Leader Visibility Benefit Staff?
It’s essential for a leader to also stay visible for the benefit of their workers.
Despite the pandemic’s relative infancy, there’s been a resounding impact on mental health; 36% of Americans have indicated that coronavirus has had an impact on their mental wellbeing, while 31% of the population say they’re sleeping less because of coronavirus-related anxiety.
In remaining visible, leaders can play a pivotal role in providing support during the current circumstances. If workers’ morale is low, offering support and listening to any problems can be an invaluable source of assistance.
A leader can innovate by making subtle amendments to how their team operates during times of change.
While COVID-19 has posed challenges, leaders have identified solutions that have reduced the overall impact on productivity, with the likes of Rolls Royce and Dyson combining their acumen to design and build thousands of ventilators to help those affected by the pandemic.
Sustaining Progress Creatively
An innovative mindset can be implemented to sustain progress within your company.
Having identified strengths amongst their team, leaders often attribute value to these traits and encourage members of their team to be innovative and think creatively, particularly during instances such as the COVID-19 pandemic whereby collaboration is needed.
It’s pivotal that a worker’s craft isn’t prohibited by their job title; staff at all levels must be encouraged to think creatively and be granted the licence to communicate viewpoints to facilitate both short and long-term goals.
COVID-19 has sparked creativity amongst SMEs and large-scale organisations; with the likes of Rolls Royce and Dyson combining their acumen to design and build thousands of ventilators to help those affected by the pandemic.
Being a leader is enjoyable but it can be a demanding responsibility.
Therefore, it’s essential to recuperate, reflect, exercise and rest; when a leader becomes fatigued and ineffective, the output of a team can be compromised and overall productivity is hindered.
When leaders are taking time out, they should inform their team. Not only does this encourage your team to follow suit, but it also demonstrates vulnerability. While leaders are often strong-minded, they aren’t invincible and taking a break ensures that they can recharge their batteries and perform to their optimum potential.