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How to Be a Standout Leader During Times of Uncertainty

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Attractive as it might sound; remote working has led to collective burnout among employees.

Along with the fear of the pandemic, the loss of connection with colleagues, the fear of losing jobs, the economic downturn, and the unstable socio-economic environment has added to the employees’ stress. Add that to the blurring lines between personal and professional lives and the pressure of proving productivity, and we have a perfect recipe for an upcoming disaster.

According to a survey by FlexJobs and Mental Health America, 75% of employees are experiencing burnout at work. 40% are specifically feeling it during the pandemic.

What employees need right now is not a manager who is focused solely on getting work done.

They need a leader who will reassure them and instill confidence in them that they can tide over these uncertain times.

What organizations need right now is a standout leader who will not just innovate but also inspire employees by being compassionate and leading from the front.

Let’s look at some qualities that a standout leader must possess. 

How to Be a Standout Leader in Times of Uncertainty

Be a mentor instead of a manager

The uncertain scenario is likely to make employees anxious. They might have several questions about the future of their career, the right path to achieve career goals, how to grow in the organization, etc. They need a reliable person who has the experience and has weathered several ups and downs in the industry to give sound and unbiased advice. They need a mentor who will understand their aspirations and coach on how to achieve them. While thinking about productivity and company goals, a standout leader focuses on helping employees achieve their goals. A highly motivated employee will automatically be able to achieve company goals too. 

Read: Train Managers to Become Better Coaches

Adopt an infinite mindset

Author Simon Sinek first professed the theory of infinite mindset. In his book called ‘The Infinite Game’, Sinek discusses two types of mindsets – the finite mindset and the infinite mindset. The finite mindset is apt for games like chess and football, where the rules are set, and the endpoint is clear. There is a clear distinction between winners and losers. But in the business world, leaders need to have an infinite mindset. That’s because the rules will change depending upon the environment, there will be no endpoints, and there is no winner or loser. The business is just ahead or behind in the competition. An infinite mindset will help organizations to build a sustainable business and constantly innovate to thrive in the future. In the current times, that’s what is expected from a standout leader. 

Encourage employees to upskill and future-proof themselves

Organizations have started to realize the importance of digital transformation and are increasingly using automation and other next-gen technologies to increase accuracy and productivity and to decrease overhead expenses. A standout leader will predict this change and plan ways to future-proof the employees. They understand that an employee can thrive only if they upskill themselves. They will have one-to-one discussions to understand the strength and limitations of the employees and design a personalized training map to ensure that they are updated with the latest know-how of the industry. 

Read: The Missing Piece in Reskilling Initiatives 

Improve employee engagement through personalized conversation

The absence of physical connection and water-cooler moments has led to low morale among employees. It’s important to engage employees, so they feel valued and contribute actively to the growth of the organization. 

Highly engaged employees are 480% more likely to stay committed to the organization. 

True leaders will find ways to engage actively with employees. They will not see it as a drill. They will have a 1:1 personalized, two-way conversation with employees to understand their aspirations, goals, roadblocks, and coach them on ways to achieve it. They will leverage technology to track and measure the outcome of coaching. 

Make employees feel safe by boosting their confidence

Employees are understandably worried about what lies ahead for them in the future. It is up to  leaders to step in and make employees feel safe. They will listen to the concerns and not dismiss them as irrational fears. Through personalized coaching and continuous communication, they will boost the employees’ confidence and make them feel safe at the workplace. 

Be empathetic to the needs of employees

Apart from being an employee, a person also dons multiple hats such as that of a parent or a caregiver. With the lines between work and family time blurring and employees suffering from burnout, it’s time for leaders to understand the challenges that employees face while working remotely and find ways to support them through tough times. They will lend them a patient hearing to ensure that they feel heard and valued in the organization. 

Conclusion

It’s been more than several months since the pandemic hit the world. Employees are quickly adapting to the new normal. As they traverse through the challenges of working from home and fighting the fears of the pandemic and financial losses, leaders have to create innovative solutions to prevent burnout and engage employees. 

Solutions like NumlyEngage are designed to help leaders leverage the power of coaching to enhance employee engagement and productivity, and reduce attrition!

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