The world as we know it is slowly inching towards a pre-COVID-19 normal. Vaccination drives are helping turn the tide, and many countries are now lifting restrictions and lockdowns to allow movement and give their citizens some much needed relief. However, despite the positive changes happening worldwide, a large part of the pandemic stress remains. We have colleagues who have come face-to-face with the virus, some lost family members, and some close friends all amidst us continuing to work remotely.
There’s no “playbook” for leadership when the stakes are high, and there is certainly no playbook for what to do in the face of a 21st Century pandemic.
The need of the hour is smart, value-driven leadership. At e-Zest, what has helped us most is our belief and commitment to our values. Here is a quick overview of what has helped that may be of interest to you as well.
Create an Ownership Mindset – The current working environment is definitely not one that most of us are used to, and it is time for leaders to help each team member manage this change. While remote working and work from home are set to continue, leaders need to infuse their teams with an ownership mindset. Ownership mindset enables each team member to be responsible for their role and tasks and is the primary value that can help create future leaders in the organization. It may also be time for leaders to take a step back and allow their team members to take on additional tasks, enabling them to manage their own work rather than having a manager continuously monitor their tasks. With the right balance of freedom, trust and encouragement, ownership is the value that can enable self-empowered and self-managed teams.
Encourage Learning – As we are increasingly embracing a digital future, our teams need to grow and learn to work with new technologies and processes. As described by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, "leaders must shift from a 'know-it-all' to 'learn-it-all' mindset." To encourage a learning attitude, organizations must promote internal upskilling and reskilling initiatives to help every team member build their own career in their chosen niche. Organizations can create a reward system for team members taking up new roles or taking up additional certifications in their desired position. Most importantly, create a platform for them to showcase their talents and share their knowledge with others through interactive sessions, webinars, or other avenues for collaborative learning.
Innovative Thinking – To truly embrace and adapt to changing times, we need to create an innovative mindset. Innovative minds are more likely to be committed to change and will see it more as a challenge or an opportunity rather than view it as an obstacle. Leadership should help teams embrace innovation and invention by allowing team members to explore unchartered territories and encourage them to learn from these experiences if things go wrong. Innovation is not about being right or wrong; it is all about breaking out of your mold and identifying new opportunities for success.
Value Creation – Value Creation is not just a core value but a recipe for growth and success. Often, leaders and their teams are too focused on delivery and the end results without asking if the solution being developed provides any value to the end-user. Value creation requires us to leverage our expertise to enable our customers to gain services or products that are truly valuable and build long-term partnerships. Humanize your brand by focusing on value creation rather than delivery and communicating the same to your team.
Zest for Life – Finally, there is a life beyond work, which many of us often overlook. Leaders are often too engrossed in their challenges and work-life, creating a perception that team members need to follow suit. Leaders need to create a value that encourages their team to stay humane and fully live their lives. Allow your teams to unwind and take part in activities that help them destress from work. People who are passionate about life can do a lot more in life with the same amount of time, and it is as a leader that we need to define the rules. Ensure employees know when to take a pause so that they can come back the next day or the next week refreshed and renewed!
These core values define the spirit of e-Zest and have helped us shape the organization that we are today. Disruptive events such as the COVID-19 pandemic can undoubtedly be difficult to mitigate. But with the right focus, empathy, flexibility, openness in communication and technology advantage, we have the power to create changes in our processes and practices to help our teams even in these stressful circumstances. Leaders and their teams must continue to find ways to keep each other engaged and focus on their core mission, as it is our ability to cope with uncertainty and keep pursuing our mission that propels organizational success.