2020 – The year in which transparent, ethical and compassionate leadership was unmuted
This year saw leadership, management and teams align like never before. It was also the year in which many video calls were interrupted by crying babies, toddler tantrums, spouses in pyjamas and barking dogs in the background of countless computer screens. In many cases, it was the year in which teams and management alike became as human as we’ve never seen each other before.
We were forced to start talking to each other! A study by Google’s Project Aristotle found the most important driver of team performance was the quality of interactions and the psychological safety that team members experienced. Not skills, intelligence, or their personalities! Connectedness and unity come from bringing together the strengths of all team members and compensating for each other’s weaknesses. The focus is shifted to valuable communication.
This becomes the building blocks for a that safe space within which teams can collaborate and discuss vulnerable concerns.
How did compassionate management and empathy come into play this year? Was this the year in which leaders started to listen more and created a space where team members could ask each other: “What do you need?” ”How can I help?” and “Are you okay?”
During uncertain changing circumstances, motivational and supportive leadership are both intangible aspects that can make or break a business, or for that matter, a team.
Quality of communication
We forget the basic and social importance of those little quick chats at the water cooler or coffee stations, often of a more personal nature. These valuable interactions formed the foundation for transferring information and building relationships. Emotionally mature leadership needed to create new work-social customs, like daily stand-up meetings (or rather, sit-downs) for thriving teams to replace that sense of connectedness.
Apart from the adjustments in communication, leaders needed to cut through the clutter and be honest and transparent, in order to encourage teams to thrive.
This leadership aspect shows integrity, which is the most common official corporate value, listed by 65% of companies Glassdoor studied, and is included among the Big 9 values employees are looking for in a winning company culture. Encourage your team to be comfortable enough to share ideas and be confident while doing it. Keep them actively involved. It’s not about always using those ideas, but to actually listen to them. Your team is in the danger zone when team members feel that they do not have a voice, because then they will stop talking!
Thanks to human nature – we are all different and sometimes so unpredictable. This can be a gruelling and annoying task for leaders that are trying to create a positive space for colleagues. Leaders this year had to show interest in what motivates their team members and what makes them tick. This proved enormously valuable to align their team’s interests and aspirations with business outcomes. How else were they going to know what resources and skillsets teams needed to equip themselves with best for the working from home reality they were faced with. It was up to leaders to enable teams to thrive in an unprecedented and confusing time.
It remains crucial to acknowledge team members. For instance, compliment them on their good work or set up valuable feedback sessions to keep them motivated.
Undoubtedly, the tremendous uncertainty, stress and anxiety that 2020 brought made us all vulnerable. The great thing about this year was: you were not alone in feeling vulnerable. Society in in general felt it too, along with you. Perhaps a team member lost a loved one during the pandemic. Perhaps another one had to juggle being a full-time mom or dad while also having a full-time job. Irrespective, leaders had to create a space for their thriving teams to reach out to one another on a more personal level. Leaders and teams alike had to recognise and expressing emotions.
Again, this all comes back to good quality communication. It takes listening without judgement and responding to it optimistically. This creates trust that will propel the team forward to thrive, collectively and individually.
As with any professional or personal connection, it’s all about investing time and effort in that relationship. That effort should start with you as a leader.
At the end of 2020 it is now important for leaders and management to take care of themselves in order to take care of their team.
For those taking time out to offload, unplug and restart, we wish you a wonderful and well-deserved time off during the festive season!