Leanne Christie: You’ve suggested that this will be a defining moment for leadership and business:
Phill Nosworthy: Right now, people are seeing very clearly the differences between leadership and management. In certain circles, the line between leadership and management has been blurred over the past 10-15 years. But the current Covid19 created moment has torn these two essential business functions apart once again.
This is a moment for genuine leadership. People-centric, inspiring, hope creating leadership that places human beings front and centre over a ‘business as usual’ approach to metric attainment and profit protection.
I’m heartened and inspired by the steps of organisations like Microsoft, who have committed to pay regular wages to their hourly workers across campuses worldwide whose income will be massively disrupted because of the pandemic. And it is isn’t just Microsoft - The Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, through the contributions of its players are paying stadium staff despite the fact that there will be no games and no fans. And there are more leadership stories just like it.
The level of vulnerability, both financially and emotionally in our communities right now is extreme. I would caution managers and business owners to really factor in the potential consequences of decisions regarding staff employment and business continuity. We’ve encouraged organisations for years to engage, care for and develop their staff. These encouragements are amplified in moments like this. Be committed to your teams now, and they will repay you with loyalty and passion in the weeks and months to come. Panic and pull the plug now, and not only do you risk throwing people into a very uncertain future, but you will show that past promises are just zeitgeist driven lip-service.
Leanne: So what should leaders be doing with their teams now?
Phill: Double down on the frequency and quality of your communications with people. In the absence of clear communication, people don’t suspend judgement and thinking - they just make up stories. And more often than not, those stories will be emotion fuelled hallucinations about worst-case scenarios. Save your staff from that drama, but ensuring high-quality communication. You don’t need to know all the answers - not one expects that from you, but what is helpful is a regular and predictable stream of communication to orient and inspire people.
I would also invest in the development of your teams as much as possible. Now, people will say - of course you think that. You are in learning and development. But yes! Of course I think that. Right now, is the perfect time to be taking advantage of latent time and the need to connect with smart digital learning. That’s a no-brainer for staff up-skilling, connection and morale. So many people will be going out of their minds at home - so book a learning series with a thought leader you already know and trust and use it as a reason to get together with your team in a future focussed way.
The third and maybe most important thing a leader should be doing right now, is practice Emotional Leadership. Calm is as contagious as panic. People who can slow down, and create the calm and dynamic energy that characterises the world’s very best leaders will rise above the chaos and lead their teams into a secure future.
Leanne: So how do leaders do that? What does Emotional Leadership look like?
Phill: Emotional Leadership centres on awareness of your own mood and emotional state.
We’ve all had moments when we are at our best - we are lucid, and calm and focussed on what matters most. Unfortunately, there are also many moments when we are not - when we are led by our emotions, and when we connect to others through our frustrations and disappointments.
By practising Emotional Leadership, ordinary people can rise above the chaos and the drama that is occurring around them and be at their best more often.
It is not hard to teach, but it does take practice. All people have to do is slow down and pay attention, stopping for a brief moment, taking a breath and asking themselves what they feel in their body and their emotions. The point here is to recognise the emotions before rushing to act on them, and consciously choosing a more calm and dynamic state.
Being in control of their own emotions, leaders find they will then have the wherewithal to connect with others. The connections that are made possible just by eliminating drama and stress from interactions between colleagues would astound people.