In a world interrupted by Covid, leaders are faced with even greater and far more pervasive challenges than the “pre-covid” era presented. Now more than ever, leaders need an approach that will help them, their teams, and ultimately their organizations thrive during these turbulent times rather than simply survive them.
Prior to Covid, leaders were already confronted with:
- Rapidly evolving and constantly changing technology
- A larger global “playing field” resulting in greater competition
- 24/7 connectivity and heightened expectations related to performance and response times
- Multiple “generations” from diverse backgrounds all working together
- Shockingly high levels of disengaged employees (the most recent “State of the Global Workplace” report published by Gallup reflects that globally, 80% of employees are actively disengaged at work. Per Gallup this lack of engagement costs the global economy US$8.1 trillion)
These challenges require leaders to interact with their teams in a way that fosters employee engagement, tolerance, agility, innovation, and increased resilience.
The pressures on businesses, their people, and as a result, their leaders, have become even more intense as a result of Covid. This calls for a more meaningful, engaging, empowering, and sustainable approach to leadership.
The changing face of how and where we work
To begin with, Covid has significantly altered how people work, where they work from, and perhaps even more importantly, how they view work. The “Great Resignation” is a term that is being used to describe the trend affecting employers across many industries and countries. Flexibility and ability to work remotely, burnout, lack of employee engagement, and a year of self-reflection and reconnecting to one’s values are all contributors to this exodus in the “traditional” workforce where, as of the writing of this article, the Microsoft Trend Index reports 46% of the global workforce is looking to change jobs.
Employees have had significant time to reassess what is important to them about their work, and who they want to be working with and for. Leaders need to have the tools and skills that will enable them to connect with and engage their teams in a way that brings value to both the organization and the individual contributors. Leaders will also need the skills to keep their teams connected to each other and aligned with not only the organization's goals but also their individual goals.
Well-being and psychological safety
Covid has also emphasized the need for employers to give serious consideration to the issues of employee well-being and psychological safety in the workplace. The recent Gallup “State of the Global Workplace:2021 Report” reflects that worry, stress, anger, and sadness, already on the rise pre-Covid, reached record levels in 2020. These negative emotions lead to negativity at work, burnout, contribute greatly to employee disengagement, and ultimately impact companies across many levels.
Once considered the realm of mental health experts and not part of a leader's or employers’ role, psychological safety and employee well-being has clearly become a challenge that leaders and employers need to consider in order to support their people. In this post-covid world, leaders need the skills to engage with their people in an authentic and meaningful way that builds trust and psychological safety within the team.
Coaching as a tool
In this new world, we find ourselves in, there is a compelling case for Coaching as both a support for leaders, as well as a tool that can be incorporated by leaders in engaging and empowering their teams.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as:
“Partnering with an individual, in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”.
It is a process that helps people connect current realities to future opportunities and possibilities. It also supports in developing a person’s capacity and ability in a way that taps into that persons’ beliefs, values, strengths, and resourcefulness.
In the context of leadership, coaching can be used as an approach to communicating and interacting where leaders act as partners with their team members, listen actively, and ask questions vs. telling employees what to do and how to do it. In learning a “coach approach” leaders are equipped with a new way of viewing the capacity and capabilities of the individuals they are there to support. From this new “lens” leaders are then better equipped to tap into the resourcefulness of their people. This serves to fuel employee engagement as individuals and teams are empowered to stretch beyond their comfort zones and leverage their strengths.
Coaching also gives rise to ongoing, meaningful, and reciprocal exchanges between leaders and their teams that foster trust, psychological safety, and where individual goals can be aligned with organizational goals.
Pre-covid, leaders were already turning to coaching as a fundamental tool to be drawn from in supporting their people. In a post-covid world, adopting a coach approach has become even more essential and can equip leaders with the skills that will help their teams meet the challenges presented by, and even thrive in, this world interrupted.
Please join us for our next webinar as we talk more about the impact that coaching can have on organizations and speak first-hand with leaders who have integrated a coach approach into their leadership styles.
References & Sources:
“State of the Global Workplace Report: 2021 Report” Gallup, Inc. Accessed at: State of the Global Workplace Report - Gallup
“The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work-Are We Ready?”, The Work Trend Index: Microsoft. Access at:
Work Trend Index: Microsoft’s latest research on the ways we work.