Social Impact Leadership in a Time of Uncertainty
Pearl Street Collective recently convened a small group of social impact leaders to discuss how to adapt their leadership styles in light of COVID-19 and its effect on their employees, themselves, and their mission. The conversation was facilitated by leadership expert Wendy Woolfork of The Purpose Walk.
Times of crisis need leaders to lead with greater intentionality. A pandemic such as COVID-19 offers a moment to fine tune your leadership and get it right for the road ahead. Learning agility is essential as leaders balance themselves between not feeling alarm and demonstrating resilience. If you do not rise to the challenge, you risk being considered unfit for other leadership roles, will drive uncertainty-which can create hearsay and amplify political rumblings within the organization-and you make it tough to trust the culture and the organization’s leadership. Conversely, leaders who respond by adapting their leadership style can neutralize the impact of uncertainty. It all begins with caring for your employees’ well-being.
Create Space for Employee Well-being
When employee well-being is compromised:
- workplace stress is heightened.
- burnout results.
- performance shortfalls exist.
- psychological tolls inhibit performance.
When employee well-being is enhanced:
- positive emotions reign, therefore, relationships, interactions, and engagement benefit.
- cognitive flexibility thrives allowing employees to shift between elements of a problem, suspend habitual thinking, get creative, simplify processes, bring new perspectives, and come up with alternatives.
cognitive flexibility = problem solving and creativity!
- employees are more compliant, trusting, willing to contribute.
- employees are more likely to help co-workers by providing valuable suggestions on how to get work done and improve the organization.
Alleviate Anxiety with Transparent Communication
- Tap into a growth mindset for difficult discussions.
- Rely on your team versus making it all depend on one person.
- Articulate a compelling intent to your employees.
- Communicate openly and ask questions to surface an employee’s expertise and bring to the fore the leadership acumen that is being eclipsed by fear and uncertainty. This in turn creates opportunities to deepen trust and commitment.
- Embrace and reinforce your organization’s cultural values and tap into your humanity, which may require personal disruption on your part as a leader.
- Over communicate. Strike a balance between not sugar coating and not lingering in communication. Do not exacerbate anxiety by taking too long to communicate yet be open and do not sugar coat the realities of the market.