A Little Empathy Never Hurts – Perspectives of Leadership during COVID-19
“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it is up to you to make that happen.” – Barack Obama
And a leader should exactly be like this – empathetic, compassionate, and full of warmth! Especially at times like this when the novel coronavirus has had us locked down at our homes, anxious and uncertain for more than 7 months now, a little show of empathy never hurts.
The remote workforce of today is highly reliant on their managers or supervisors for looking after their health and safety. In such an hour of crisis, the industry leaders are known to perform relentlessly along with the threats of workforce instability and also the ever-rising health risk. With a sudden surge in mental health issues, the managers need to be extra acquainted with the same and point out whenever any employee seems to need additional help, mainly psychological. Here, the ‘empathy’ card comes into the play.
We know it is too much to handle, and it is exhausting you at times. But stress can mess with your thought processes and your ways of reacting to any situation. The ‘tough love’ leadership is not supposed to yield results in this situation. Only a genuine show of empathy towards the employees will help in this new age of pandemic. So, all you need is an environment of positivity and camaraderie amid you and your subordinates. They should feel that you understand their stories and their problems as likewise your image isn’t marred.
To unveil your empathetic side, firstly, you need to show up, you need to be visible and lend an eager ear to your subordinates. It will help your team to have faith in you and feel somewhat positive and enthusiastic about work. Trust me, you cannot go MIA (missing in action) on your team in between such a crisis.
Secondly, being a leader, you are completely capable of looking beyond this current chaos and concentrate on a much bigger picture. Do not let the fear and the subsequent panic consume you, be your mindful self, accept the situation and wait for that one silver line amid these dark clouds to push your team towards the next bigger and better thing.
Thirdly, you can consider decentralizing your power. The leadership must be a burden in the crisis hour, so nurturing some leadership skills amongst mid-level, able managers, and help to unfurl their true potentials will be great. You will set an example of empathy and inclusiveness amid your people.
Fourthly, do not refrain from communicating. Your silence can be ominous at times when your team is looking up to you for inspiration and reassurance. Communicate with them to blow confidence into them, to understand and solve their issues, to calm down their anxieties, and be the best leader ever. Acknowledging their wins, however small or big, will do wonders and will attract a barrage of positive vibe.
Lastly and most importantly, be human and be a coach to your team. With a huge shift from ‘working in office’ to ‘work from home’, lives have changed drastically. So, all work and no play will make your people unproductive. Let them engage in fun stuff beyond work as well. It is okay if somebody’s kid pops up in between a video call, it is okay is somebody’s laptop is not working, it is okay if someone needs to attend a family emergency in between work. Today, each one of us is being piled up with duties, be it of office or home or any other personal needs. Reaching into their cores will only prove what a great leader you are!
What sets apart a great leader from a good leader is his or her ability to feel the problems of the subordinates along with their issues and never give up, ever!