These unusual conditions impose more demands on leaders, on teams, and on individuals. The way we engage people in times like these is to be more personal in our communications, and to provide clarity on the priorities to be delivered in each role, to ensure that high-performance is sustained. At the same time, it is also about showing more care and equipping people to do their work well.
We think about it at different levels. For leaders, it is about exercising situational leadership more, which includes being open to the perspectives of others to make the right decisions as a group. We are all trying to navigate uncertainty and look beyond well-trodden paths, considering different scenarios and possibilities, as well as figuring out how to identify opportunities to enable us to adapt to changing world realities. This requires courage from leaders to take risks, innovate, remain agile and know that we do not have all the answers. As such, leaders need to harness the collective knowledge from teams and bring them along the journey.
We also need to show empathy to our people, and support them in building resilience. During periods of high stress, we need to show understanding and care to our teams, encouraging them to be their best when they are working, while knowing that they may also have to manage different priorities at home.
We emphasise wellness and energy in various dimensions. Physical wellness; mental wellness to focus on decision-making and things we have to do; and emotional wellness, which is about establishing connections with people and ensuring they do not feel isolated. It goes back to asking ourselves, “What is our purpose in life and in the workplace?” The short answer is knowing that we are able to deliver well on the mission of the organization, while managing personal and family priorities.
For teams, it is also important at the individual level to understand “why” we need to respond to changing times, “what” is required from individuals, and “how” this can be done – by leveraging the strengths of each individual to make a difference. If we are clear and aligned on team priorities, we will be able to say what success looks like and works towards it collaboratively.
At GIC, we have talked about how we can operate in the new norm, and value our people as part of the journey. It is important to build good working habits. Have honest conversations and solicit different views in order to make the best decisions as a team; ensure continuous learning through after-action reviews to reflect on what is going well and what is not; and adapt and experiment along the way as we navigate uncertain times together.
Additionally, maintain high-trust relationships, show respect for people, ensure inclusiveness of different views. These are things we would do in good times, and even more so in not-so-good times.
We also put out a playbook to support our employees, when we found that during the period of lockdown and restricted mobility, people were working longer hours at home, while simultaneously dealing with the stresses and anxieties of caring for families.
Our playbook describes the A, B, C, D, E principles that we view to be important: