The global economy needs bold, decisive and inclusive leadership right now. The kind that centers on people and their individual needs over short term profits. Most organizations, businesses and institutions in the United States are deploying social isolation measures, finally (thankfully!). Yet, these policies and protocols aren’t going beyond checking off the smallest boxes of liability protection. Part of the problem is that we weren’t prepared for the magntitude of this outbreak, in spite of several months of warnings. Health experts projected that if unchecked, an estimated 50-70% of the U.S. population might get infected and affected by this global pandemic.
As a business, your actions and inactions toward your personnel’s wellbeing right now will impact your future. Your leadership will ripple into your culture, your operations, and your profits, beyond this pandemic and far into the future. So how can you make sure that this crisis doesn’t affect your business and your leadership?
Here are four LEGupward leadership tips that might be helpful:
1.) Consider whether your protocols are fair for all your employees’ paychecks.
Yes, most employers have switched to work-from-home or remote work options. But many companies seem to have scant measures in place to see the uneven financial effects that personnel would incur because their home lives may offer complications that would need costly expenses to be incurred for the company’s benefit. Some employees are single and can self-quarantine easier than others. Some have roommates because their work involves such frequent travel that they don’t have a place of their own. Others have families that they would be putting at risk by going into social isolation with them. Right now, some of my friends have immunocompromised or at-risk family members in their households. They have to quarantine with them. They have no other options. Their employers haven’t offered subsidies or compensation for alternate solutions, like an extended hotel stay. Any one-size-fits-all solution puts the financial burden on the employees, exacerbating stress in these times.
There are those who still have to be on-site at their work sites. This includes custodial staff members who are responsible for sanitation and decontamination efforts. Meanwhile, mandatory school closures mean their dependents are home. They may have no solutions to take care of their dependents. Using friends, family or daycare options only increases the collective risk. The financial burden of any arrangements is on them, again, exacerbating stress.
As a business embedded in society, there is a great leadership opportunity here to create belongingness, and longterm goodwill and profits. And, it is as simple as making sure that you are supporting all your employees equitably through this pandemic. How are your isolation protocols and measures affecting your individual employees daily realities? And, what can you do to support them so that they can function better and thrive? What can you do to empower them in this time?
2.) Take care of your employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.
The need to belong is human nature. It creates psychological security. The majority of employees spend more time with their coworkers and colleagues at work than they do with their families at home. It creates stability in healthy workforces. These social isolation measures now threaten this need to belong. This disruption affects psyches, motivation, productivity, and, sense of self. It affects group dynamics.
As an inclusive leader, you have the opportunity to unite your team in the face of this crisis. Focus on how each member of your team is dealing with the isolation and the health crisis, physically, mentally and emotionally. One simple way to do this is to create safe, virtual personal check-ins. Address the quarantine and its effects so that people can discuss ongoing the pandemic, and resolve their feelings and fears about it. Are your employees responsible for any at risk members? Are they caregivers? How is that affecting them? Do they feel like they can talk about this without judgement? Children and/or other family members may disrupt any virtual team meetings. While routine is critical for structure, communication, flexibility and adaptability are also key right now. Have you outright told your team what your expectations are so that they know the extent to which you are willing to support them?
3.) Be a pillar of stability and security.
When faced with any kind of external threats, human beings tend to divide into “us” (the in-group) versus “them” (the out-group) mentalities. This is the foundation of how perceived group differences come up, and they affect attitudes, behaviors and decisions. Often, the out-groups are other people – people whose lived experiences are different because the intersections of their lives are different from the norms we know. These are usually the people we miss, marginalize, misrepresent or under-represent because we don’t take into account their different realities. We have seen the negative effects of these types of in-group/out-group divisions in every violent conflict in the history of mankind. But, this natural human tendency can also be leveraged toward great benefits for groups.
As an inclusive leader, you have the opportunity to create better cohesion and security in your workforce by using a simple solution. All you need to do is acknowledge and respect people’s intersectionalities instead of ignoring them. Appreciate that different employees’ lives have different burdens on them that they carry, in all aspects of their lives. These uneven burdens may lead to situations where some people are not able to thrive as employees. The inequities caused by social isolation measures may be threatening their sense of worth. How can you, as a leader, address that and resolve it?
4.) Hire an external, virtual mindset and wellbeing coach.
The stresses of social isolation, coupled with the mass contagion of panic and hysteria over wellbeing, force people to spend more time in their fixed mindsets over time. It is inevitable because this pandemic, the external threat, is currently an inescapable situation.
As a leader, you have the space right now to model the importance of staying centered and balanced, by hiring a mindset and wellbeing coach for yourself and for your team. This signals four things to you and your team:
a.) That everyone should take care of themselves, including you.
b.) That everyone has permission to take care of themselves, including you.
c.) That you are invested in their wellbeing and continued growth.
d.) That all of you are in this together to uplift each other.
It is important that this coach is external to the team so that everyone has an equal coaching relationship, including you, the leader. This coach can help you and your team explore your mindsets and co-create well-designed actions that will maximize growth mindset times and flows. Doing this with your teams and employees will ripple out into the rest of their quarantined lives and have a positive impact. When the pandemic is under control and social isolation measures end, you can be confident that your teams are returning back to “routine” in their healthiest, most motivated and the most cohesive forms.
At its core, this kind of inclusive leadership requires nothing more than understanding, valuing, appreciating and recognizing people because of who their unique journeys turned them into. It means understanding that 61% of the civilian workforce cover essential aspects of their selves at work, and working to resolve that. It is founded in embracing the intersectionalites that every single human being develops over the course of their lifetimes.
The LEGupward Framework by AJ Rao, LLC was built intentionally and specifically to address these challenges in a rapidly changing workforce. At AJ Rao, LLC we provide individual and group coaching and training for personnel to overcome their self-doubt, discover their Leadership Voices, and, become confident, respected leaders who are acknowledged and recognized by their peers and management teams. Our coaching services include mindset coaching, empowerment coaching, life coaching, leadership coaching, and executive coaching. We also provide complete inclusion and belongingness solutions to organizations who want to leverage and harness the diversity of their talent to create healthy, inclusive organizational cultures and practices.
Schedule a discovery and clarity call here to find out how we can help you create a profitable and sustainable business in the changing future of work.