We are leading in unprecedented circumstances. We do not know the answers to the millions of questions going around in our heads and the heads of those who look up to us. Nor do we know how this is all going to pan out in the longer term. Two things are fairly certain;
There are three common scenarios for leaders to find themselves in now;
- In a large organisation that cannot conceivably stop all that it is doing, although it may have scaled its operations down.
In a medium sized organisation in the same situation – unable to stop; indeed possibly even needing to increase its productivity.
In a medium sized organisation that cannot realistically continue to operate as it has at the moment.
The fourth scenario, a large organisation that cannot continue to operate is very unlikely to survive beyond the next two or three months.
Most leaders have, by now, sent out messages to their staff and to the users of their services or products. Reading these, it is quickly obvious which ones have the vital attribute of empathy, and which ones don’t. For the foreseeable future, empathy is something that you will need in bucket loads. Failing to demonstrate it will cost the organisation, and perhaps you yourself, dearly. Now is not the time for pride and bravado; people see through these immediately. You need to impress this on your leadership colleagues, and you need to support each other to empathy-test all that you do.
Dr. Graham Wilson is an executive confidant and part-time Tutor in Psychology and Counselling at the University of Oxford where he leads their Coaching Programmes. He was awarded the Distinguished Fellowship of the IOD in 1993.
This is the first in a series of posts that are also appearing on the Institute of Directors Global Blog (blog.iodglobal.com)