Dr. Rajesh Mohan Rai
Tips for Leaders in the “New Normal”
Great leadership is always in short supply in normal times and becomes rarer during a crisis. A crisis throws the challenges on the leaders which have not been encountered before. This is also an occasion for the leaders to convert these challenges into opportunities. An Executive Coach can help the leaders to take advantage of these opportunities and step up their leadership. as we all know and agree that “Solid leadership emerges in adversity”.
How can an executive coach assist the leaders in working on their strengths to lead the organization more effectively in time of crisis?
An executive coach connects with the leader on professional and personal level. The Executive coach is expected to be aware of the current challenges faced by the Leader and likely challenges which he/ she may face in near future if not acted upon to chart out an action plan for current challenges. The executive coach must accept and appreciate the challenges faced by the leader in the times of crisis.
These challenges could range from hard decisions regarding the layoffs and retention, to looking for new geographies for reestablishing production facilities, adapting to new business realities to making frequent adjustments to local government’s policy flip flop. The list gets bigger if the problems faced by the leader on the personal front are added. The “BAU” challenges remain too.
The empathic listening is one of the most critical virtues of an executive coach. Empathic listening encompasses deep respect for the client (leader), a sincere desire to help, an inclination to find the solutions for the issues at hand of the leader and being accepting of the strengths and limitations of the leader.
As an Executive Coach, please let the leader know that it is absolute normal to struggle. Support the leader in guiding and inculcating the skill of empathic listening. Leaders must listen with empathy and show compassion. This is the modified approach the leader must adopt while communicating with team members/ employees. With the ongoing research on Emotional Intelligence, empathy is one of the most crucial measure of leadership maturity.
We all know that a good executive coach is expected to ask good and relevant questions. Relevant to the challenges faced during the crisis. Questions which may be asked are about:
Leadership style under stress/ crisis.
SWOT of the crisis leadership style.
Adjustments/ modifications made while communicating with different personality types.
Ways to influence without authority.
Awareness level of the Blind spots.
Ways to overcome stress.
Impact of crisis on personal life etc..
We all would agree with “The right questions bring out the right answers”.
When questions around the above issues are asked the journey of the leader’s evolution begins. The steps towards finding a solution to any problem faced is to be aware, accept that the problem exists and initiate the appropriate action for solving the problem. The leader should adapt oneself to ask the relevant questions with the team members/ employees to ensure that the team members/ employees feel cared and wanted. This improves the engagement and makes them give their best.
Employees always remember, how were they treated in time of crisis. Treat them well, if treated well, they are likely to stay longer with the organization. Listen to them and acknowledge their contributions and value additions. Mental wellbeing has become prime significance for the employees. The leader must be aware of this fact, accept this and take appropriate action.
An executive coach understand the anxieties of the leader being coached and helps the leader to remain calm and also exhibit calmness while communicating with stakeholders. The coach reinforces that crisis brings opportunities too. Help, support and encourage the leader to pursue the new opportunities.
Peter Simbotwe states, “True and genuine leaders emerge from a crisis.”
onto the past. It does not exist. This is new normal.