Five behaviours of exceptional leaders in lockdown

Five behaviours of exceptional leaders in lockdown

Working with leaders and organisations across a cross-section of industries throughout the global pandemic, we have captured five behaviours which consistently rise to the top for exceptional
leaders in lockdown.

Let’s jump into it …

  • Demonstrating empathy

In times of uncertainty, employees may experience heightened levels of sensitivity; this needs heightened levels of empathy from leaders. And it’s not just about work and deadlines, it’s also about other factors that (again) form part of your teams’ lives.  Home schooling, caring for younger kids or even elderly family members who may struggle through lockdown.

As a leader, flex your empathy muscle by showing your human side – seek to understand what’s happening for your team, show vulnerability and kindness, and ensure you build in a
level of humour and fun (there are so many good memes and GIFs to share!)

  • Creating connection

Here, we’re talking regular, consistent, multi-modal communication – and being available for the ad hoc connection! Not everything needs to be on Zoom or Teams, when a phone call is
enough.

We have witnessed significant ‘video-fatigue’ over the past 18 months, so look for other ways to connect that include phone calls (old-fashioned but it still works!), messaging and
collaboration platforms such as MS Teams, Trello or Slack. And it’s not just about work-related conversations.

Recreating the ‘water cooler’ informal chat is essential. Some of our clients have adopted Trivia Fridays (platforms like Kahoot or Mentimeter are great for this), Team Room Tuesdays (everyone jump on for 15 minutes with a cuppa and talk anything that’s not work related) or an MS Teams Channel dedicated to sharing lockdown activities. A perfect way to start building your team’s culture of creativity!

  • Being adaptive

Here, you’re intentionally seeking out opportunities to understand your employees, who need more support than others, and who might be at risk of burning out. In a virtual world,
this is paying attention to the subtle queues in someone’s voice or tone of messages or emails.

There are some amazing platforms that integrate communication platforms, evidence-based research and artificial intelligence, to give line of site to leaders and organisations on the
wellbeing of their employees – preventing burn out before it happens. One of our favourites is Pioneera.

  • Empowering your team

You don’t have the time or oversight to micromanage in lockdown! Whether it’s at the task level, project or program level, it’s time to delegate and empower your employees. This is
time to ask/coach, not to tell/direct.

As Brene Brown says, ‘clear is kind, unclear is unkind’. Collaborate with your team members to set clear SMART goals, or OKRs, and encourage your employees to be intentional on how
they set their priorities when working from home.

  • Embracing self-care

The old saying of ‘you need to give yourself oxygen, before you can give it to others’ has never been more true. Whether it’s getting a good night’s sleep, exercise, meditation,
taking intentional breaks from the computer or eating healthily, these all add up to a healthier you, to enable you to be a healthier, exceptional leader.

Self-care enables each of the above – being adaptive to the individual needs of each employee who is working from home (and now with home schooling), empowering employees to potentially set their own work hours to get their work done and self-care activities, with consistent connection and empathy to minimise burnout and the need for employees to always feel ‘on’.

None of these behaviours sit in isolation; it’s the interplay of each, with your own authentic leadership style, that enable a leader to shift from effective leadership, to exceptional leadership
during lockdown.

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