In my very first blog, “Why Values Based Leadership Works”, I highlighted the benefits of VBL. During this time of significant unrest and uncertainty, the actions of not only our leaders, but of everyone, are so telling. Let me remind you of what VBL will bring to a team:
- Courage and creativity in decision making
- A source for sound and consistent judgment
- Authenticity and trust with managers and employees as they all know what to expect
- Organizational focus on the important stuff without wasted energy on decision making that should be easy
- A sense of personal alignment
- A guidebook for managers to live and learn by
- Validation of our gut feeling
- A strong sense of fulfillment and job satisfaction
I can’t imagine when “the Hows”, or exhibiting the values, would be more important than during a crisis, such as the pandemic and civil unrest we are all living through right now across the globe. We usually say that what you do when no one is watching matters the most. At this moment, I would say what you do when everyone is watching matters just as much, since right now, everyone is watching.
How leaders have chosen to respond to the pandemic and more recently the social unrest has been in some cases expected and, in others, unpredicted. Either way, teams look to their leaders for guidance, reassurance, direction, a sense of calmness, honesty, transparency and compassion. So many leaders began daily or weekly communications with their teams (or provinces, countries…) in an effort to unite. If there was ever a time to over-communicate, the past few months was that time. Leaders are defined by their response to a crisis – never in my lifetime have I witnessed every leader in the world challenged with the same crisis at the same time, giving us all a great opportunity to see the best and the worst in action, and with appropriate relativity to boot.
The effects of leadership are best observed by the team’s response to that leadership. Just watch any news channel to see the Governors’ responses vs the Premiers responses to their leadership. Crisis leadership requires leaders to unite their teams as they cannot manage through something of this magnitude alone. They need to create trust vs dissent. There was no rule book for any of our leaders during such unprecedented times when the stakes were so high. The need to be adaptable, flexible and honest as circumstances and information changed so often and so fast is critical for all leaders. Now, more than ever, employee, client, stakeholder and citizen safety and equity have to be the first priority for leaders – and for many leaders this has been a fundamental shift in thinking.
We also need to take a look at our teams’ (and citizens) response during these times. One of my clients had members of his team threaten to stop supporting customers if he didn’t give them all a large raise. Another one had employees hand making masks from their homes and delivering them to front line workers just because they could. Which set of employees would you plan to keep as we begin reopening our economy? How likely are you to want the first set of employees to return to your workplace? What are you going to do about it? And what about our millennials and others who have taken to the streets to ensure their voices are heard? How will we respond while everyone is watching?
If nothing else, seeing our leaders, and our employees, for who they truly are, has been an unintentional outcome of this pandemic. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to observe one’s core values and make some much needed decisions about the future. Leaders nor teams will ever forget how they were treated during this crisis and our next steps in the corporate, economic and political realms will be shaped by the actions of our leaders and decision makers over the next many months.
We are in a defining moment right now, a tipping point in our history – we cannot be afraid to redefine our business, our plan, our strategy, our injustices, and our people as I don’t think we will ever get the chance to hit the reset button again in our lifetime like the world has right now. All of our actions over the past several months and the next several expose our true values – what we do while everyone is watching matters.