In this episode of UpSw!ng, we discuss the challenges many people and teams are experiencing in the current environment, and suggest that now is the time leaders shift their focus to new KPI’s  – KEEP PEOPLE INSPIRED.

There are many simple actions leaders and boards should be taking to support the mental health and culture of the business. In this discussion, I draw comparisons to leading our people in these uncertain times of COVID-19 with that of digital business transformation as both need transformational leadership styles to show up every day.

We are operating in an environment we may not be able to control but we need to lead through

The current environment is so challenging as we change how we work, socialize, and learn.  Notwithstanding these days many families, like mine, have immediate family on the other side of the world we have not seen for years, this dynamic alone will have a lasting impact.

Now let’s throw in the vaccine situation, the debate around ‘no jab, no work’, which regardless of your own view on this you may have people in your teams that are conflicted.  And then making things even more challenging is the great ‘resignation pandemic’ seeing large changes in teams, and the need to establish new dynamics and culture.

There are so many ways the current environment is showing up in the lives and mental health of every person, and it’s far from static too.  People are expected to show great resilience, forced to always be adapting with the only constants being change and uncertainty.

As a leader in this environment, we must not lead with prejudice, but with empathy, creating safe spaces for everyone to be open and honest with what’s happening in their life.    This is a fundamental principle of transformational leadership.

We know that authentic communication is at the heart of high performing cultures, and good communication and collaboration is based on several human traits: trust, honesty, respect, empathy and above all authenticity.

Understand the impact of uncertainty

Trust is a core value that most people can relate to. As a verb it means to believe in the reliability, truth, or ability of.

Yet in today’s world, it’s not unusual to find trust lacking, not just in the face of Covid-19, but also in the context of a digital business transformation because of the uncertainty.   A future that is based on assumptions and expected outcomes may not always be reliable and absolute truth is hard to achieve.

We are not all well equipped to deal with this uncertainty and ambiguity, meaning that this core value system is challenged. People become worried that they may lose their jobs, and therefore fearful of being completely honest about their own capabilities or feelings. They may also lose respect from others because of this reaction to the uncertainty, or through applying bias from experiences they closely associate with.

Remaining values-led

Embracing the rapidly changing environment of any crisis, or any transformation – digital or personal – is about navigating through this uncertainty. For me personally, through my own experience leading in a crisis and leading digital transformations, I’ve come to understand that there needs to be an unwavering foundation grounded in your values.

Acknowledging our human needs early and anchoring your digital transformation, or crisis response around core business values is foundational action. Most organisations have values and as leaders we must ensure these are more than just posters on a wall and are an intrinsic part of your organisation’s culture before a transformation or a crisis.  This is the best way to unite and inspire your workforce and instil positive behaviours.

As a leader, speak openly about these values. Demonstrate empathy and understanding around the impact that the environment might be having on your workforce. Doing so will inspire a more unified commitment to achieving the priority outcomes.

It’s important to remember that a values-led culture is not HR’s job. We must all take responsibility for nurturing people – CEO’s, boards, people leaders and every individual across a business all have a part to play.

We must communicate early and often. The old saying ‘no news is good news’ is terrible advice. That approach will only exacerbate feelings of mistrust. Do right by your people, keeping honesty, openness, and respect at the core of your communication and you’ll see initiatives successfully embraced by your workforce, business wide.

How to create inspiration

People need inspiration, and they are inspired by a leader that is both empathetic and purpose driven.   At the heart, this is about having highly mature communication capabilities, and authentically rallying people around the common goals.  Forget traditional boundaries of structure and leadership and let the potential and passion of your people set the pace. 

There are many leadership tips across google, here are some of my favourites:

  1. If its not positive – don’t say it:  If you criticize someone or something for its flaws without any input requested, you’re just going to upset people. But if you are asked for input, deliver it in a positive manner. 
  2. Be an active listener and be sincere: anyone can hear, but are you listening.
  3. Earn trust: by simply being a good human and stay trustworthy always.
  4. Acknowledged problems and failure: empathize with them happening and quickly demonstrate how to pivot in a calm and confident way.  This will inspire confidence and courage.
  5. Treat everyone equally: we are all equal humans regardless of gender, race, position in the business or any other reason.
  6. Keep your promises: if you say you will do something then do it.
  7. Reach for the stars: be a great storyteller, and aim high.
  8. Acknowledge your contributors:  I’m sure you are wonderful, but you’re one person and others will have contributed to your greatest success.

Keep people inspired by understanding diverse skills

I really believe in embracing skills diversification, inspiring your talent to develop new ways of working, thinking, and applying their skills to the business. Changing the way we think of people and their skills more broadly is an exciting way to harness talent. 

By this I mean avoid boxing people based on their job title and qualifications. Instead, understand their functional skills. Take, for example, a traditional truck driver. Today we would say she has a driving license, a heavy vehicle license or HG qualifications. However, with future-focused thinking, she has skills related to concentration, and ability to focus for long periods of time or great spatial awareness.   

Never has there been such a great time to try this out as now, especially when people are considering leaving roles to seek new inspiration.

Finally, take your own advice

Ensure you are looking after yourself too, who do you talk to about how you are feeling?  It’s so important as a leader you do not compromise your own physical and mental health ‘for the job’.  You know your limits, I’m sure you have even crossed them a few times over the last few years, but try your best, and trust in someone to be your wing-person.  

Everyone needs someone to adjust their crown every now and then.

 

About UpSw!ng

The content in this series is my perspective, open to discussion and healthy challenge, and welcomes ideas and collaboration should you wish to get involved.

It is my objective to represent diverse thinking and inspirational leadership towards a fundamental shift in the way technology and innovation can grow profitable NZ organisations, whilst making positive impacts on society.

What may feel dramatic now, will be considered visionary in the future!

Ready to take action?

I would be delighted to help you with your digital growth, get in touch at to start taking action, not just promoting a vision!

#globalmindkiwiheart

About UpSw!ng

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

The content in this series is my perspective, open to discussion and healthy challenge, and welcomes ideas and collaboration should you wish to get involved.

It is my objective to represent diverse thinking and inspirational leadership towards a fundamental shift in the way technology and innovation can grow profitable NZ organisations, whilst making positive impacts on society.

What may feel dramatic now, will be considered visionary in the future!

Ready to take action?

I would be delighted to help you with your digital growth, get in touch at to start taking action, not just promoting a vision!

#globalmindkiwiheart

About UpSw!ng

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

The content in this series is my perspective, open to discussion and healthy challenge, and welcomes ideas and collaboration should you wish to get involved.

It is my objective to represent diverse thinking and inspirational leadership towards a fundamental shift in the way technology and innovation can grow profitable NZ organisations, whilst making positive impacts on society.

What may feel dramatic now, will be considered visionary in the future!

Ready to take action?

I would be delighted to help you with your digital growth, get in touch at to start taking action, not just promoting a vision!

#globalmindkiwiheart