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This is an excerpt of a column Logos Advisor Maida K. Zheng published on LinkedIn on May 26, 2021. 

 

This is written for the manager and the employee because both need to be reflective of what immaturity can look like, for different reasons of course.

 

We’ve all heard it before: “leadership is a privilege.” I 100% agree with that sentiment. Although, all too often we promote folks to leadership positions before they are ready — causing issues that didn’t need to happen. Being good at what you do is not enough to be a good, mature leader.

 

The number one sign for spotting an immature leader is observing how they treat their colleagues before they are in a formal leadership position.

 

Ask yourself:

 

Do they regularly belittle their colleagues? Are they only a team player when the boss is there to see? How do they think on their feet? Are they able to improvise and adapt to challenging situations? Do they regularly make excuses for their mistakes but freely take credit for things they did well… even if the credit should be shared?

 

Also, another good indicator is how they treat their current supervisors they may not respect. Do they often behave inappropriately? Do they cause issues and pose questions to simply be disruptive? Are they disrespectful?

 

The questions can go on and on. They are good questions to consider as those are all good indicators that someone may not be ready for a leadership position now. Maybe after training and growth they can be — but they are not ready now.

 

An important thing to look for before promoting someone into a leadership position is adaptability and empathy; a good leader needs both. An immature leader may be excellent at what they do but lack the experience to know how to read a room, which makes their leadership unpredictable at best, toxic at worst.

 

An often overlooked quality of someone who has the potential to lead is vulnerability.  If you are a manager, consider really taking a look at your candidate and observing if they are willing to be vulnerable. (Now, I am not talking about oversharing…that’s a different issue all together.) What I am talking about here is, is your candidate willing to admit they need help from their team? Do they know the importance of apologizing? A lack of vulnerability in a leader often also leads to a lack of good decision-making skills. 

 

It’s no secret that leaders need to be able to make decisions, oftentimes under pressure in the heat of a moment. Management should recognize that someone who throws up a wall and refuses to be vulnerable will either make flippant decisions that harm the team or will pass the blame onto others when they made the wrong decision.

 

Read the full article here.

This is an excerpt of a guest column by Helio Fred Garcia, originally published in the May issue of PRSA’s Strategy & Tactics.

A foundational principle of any organization’s crisis response is that indifference to the situation is toxic. Leaders must show they care. This was true before COVID-19 and it will become even more essential as we recover from the pandemic, which has been the most disruptive crisis most of us have ever faced.

To be clear, the need for leaders to care during times of crisis is neither sentimental nor soft. Rather, caring is a necessary discipline for leaders — a fact made clear when we analyze the factors that build trust and reputation.

For all organizations, a common goal in every crisis is to maintain or restore the trust of stakeholders — which include investors, employees, customers, suppliers and increasingly, communities. And it’s much harder to restore trust after it’s been lost than to maintain that trust in the first place.

Trust is the natural result of promises fulfilled, expectations met and values lived. When people experience a company fulfilling its promises — whether those promises are explicit or merely implied by a brand’s identity — their trust in the organization remains or increases. When people see a brand break its promises, on the other hand, their trust in the organization falls.

Similarly, when customer expectations for a company are met, trust in the brand remains or increases. But when leaders or companies fail to meet those expectations, trust erodes.

Such expectations can be set by the company itself, through explicit or implicit promises and/or through precedents set by the organization’s past behavior. Consumer expectations also derive from laws and social mores, which change over time. Company leaders should always stay abreast of social expectations.

When it comes to the trust that rises or falls according to the values lived by a business, the company’s stated values set an expectation. When people experience a company living up to its stated values, their trust remains; conversely, when they see a company failing to live up to its stated values, their trust diminishes.

One of the disciplines of effective crisis response is to get the decision criterion — the basis of choice — right. A poorly handled crisis often results from leaders making decisions based on what scares them least. In times of crisis, leaders need to make decisions based on the tested criteria that determine trust.

 

Caring builds trust

When deciding how to respond in a crisis, leaders do well by first identifying their most important constituents and then asking themselves: What would reasonable people expect a responsible organization to do in this circumstance?

Reasonable people don’t take their cues from internet trolls or bots, from critics or adversaries or even from the news media or social media. Instead, reasonable people respond to those they trust and to those whose trust they need for themselves. Reasonable people have expectations that are appropriate to the crisis, to the harm that people have experienced and to the kind of organization that is experiencing the crisis.

A responsible company asks what reasonable people would expect it to do, which leads to the company having a fuller array of predictably helpful options.

Consider, for example, the scenario that an explosion has occurred at a factory. Reasonable people won’t expect a responsible company to immediately know what has caused the blast. Reporters will ask for an explanation and people on social media will speculate, but stakeholder trust won’t dissolve simply because the company doesn’t know the cause at the time of the explosion.

Reasonable people will expect the company to acknowledge what has happened, to work with first responders to rescue those inside the factory and to provide for the families of employees who were injured or killed.

We can inventory the specific expectations of different stakeholders — including employees and more particularly, those workers directly affected by the disaster; customers and more precisely, those who have used a certain product from a certain retailer on a certain date.

Regardless of the nature of crisis an organization faces, every interested party shares a common expectation: that the organization and its leaders will care. Customers, employees, investors and others expect leaders to care that the organization’s processes, systems or judgment have failed; that as a consequence people have been placed at risk and need to be protected; and that the company may need to make changes to prevent similar crises from occurring again.

In any crisis, what it means for leaders to care can vary according to the circumstances, but the need to care is universal. At a basic level, caring means that leaders mitigate any ongoing risk to people and help them out of the crisis.

 

Building for the future 

In the past year, half a million Americans have died from COVID-19 and 30 million others have been infected by the virus. The pandemic crashed the economy, forcing hardships on many people. Collectively, our mental health has suffered from the stress of the coronavirus outbreak, including the strain of being confined in our homes. How we work has changed, perhaps forever. At the same time, social and political divisions seem to be growing, not shrinking.

Having suffered these hardships, people are fragile, exhausted and vulnerable, even as they try to feel hopeful for the future.

Leaders should know that people need them to care, now more than ever. Some leaders might feel tempted to assume (or to hope) that everything has already returned to normal, so they can step on the accelerator for their businesses. And in non-crisis environments, that may be the case. But for leaders of organizations still recovering from the pandemic, the need for caring has only increased.

Caring requires empathy; and empathy requires humility. Leaders who have successfully guided their organizations through the pandemic have demonstrated humility within themselves and expressed empathy for others. As we move into recovery, we can follow their example.

Read full article here.

The year 2020 will go down in the history books forever.

This year is riddled with so much emotion. (It has all of the elements of perfect storytelling; I have a feeling there is enough trauma, drama, ridiculousness, and entertainment here that someone may even make a Broadway play out of it many years from now. Who knows?)

But in all seriousness, I want to start this blog post by channeling my inner Brené Brown and acknowledge that I don’t really know what to say, nor do I have all the answers. The fact is that so many of us – too many of us – have endured pain, loss, heartbreak, and unfathomable change over the course of 2020. There is nothing I can say to make that pain go away. All I hope I can do is acknowledge that what you are feeling is real and hope you know that it is okay to feel whatever you may be feeling.

As we enter the new year, we don’t quite know what will come next. But we do know that as more and more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, we can start to reimagine how we will move forward and thrive in 2021.

In reflecting on this past year, our team at Logos Consulting Group thought about the biggest lessons learned in 2020 and what the most important skills will be in 2021.  Here are the five key skills we identified:

Be Ready to Adapt

Near the beginning of the COVID pandemic, my teammate Katie Garcia talked about the importance of adaption. She said, “our ability to adapt is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.” She added that we need to be on, “adaptation alert as circumstances change, and when the pandemic finally ends, organizations must be prepared to adapt yet again in a post-COVID-19 world, whatever that will look like.”

Regardless of what lies ahead, we need to tackle it with the resiliency that has helped us through this past year. (Read more about adaptability here).

Be Prepared

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Good planning is an iterative process that helps us understand first and foremost the problem we are dealing with, as well as the risks. Good planning encourages us to take risks seriously. Good planning helps us foresee the foreseeable and be ready to tackle the unforeseeable. Good planning helps us adapt. And good planning prepares us for the pain when we realize that we didn’t plan enough.

2020 has taught us the necessity of good preparation, even in the face of the unknown. As we enter a new year, we need to be ready to tackle what is to come and take the pain when it is needed.

Be Authentic

As we look to lead our people in 2021, we need to be present, consistent, and authentic for our teams – in our behaviors, and with the signals we send.

Leadership expert Dr. Patrick Donahue talks about authenticity in his new book: The Power of Genuine Leadership: How Authentic Leaders Earn Trust. One of the key lessons in his book is that authenticity without guidelines is irresponsible; that authenticity without empathy is careless; and that humility is much more than a willingness to be vulnerable. To build trust requires authenticity, and authenticity is a combination of consistent communication, consistent coaching, and consistent respect over time. (You can read more about his new book by clicking here).

We need to be authentic as we face and lead through the uncertainty before us. And that requires both authenticity and empathy. As Dr. Donahue notes, “There is a common denominator between being a leader in the corporate world and in athletics – you need to be there for your team.”

Sometimes being there for your team means being there from the bench. Hall of Fame Soccer player, Abby Wambach said, “if you’re not a leader on the bench, then you’re not a leader on the field.” Be authentic and there for your team.

Practice Empathy

To empathize is to feel with someone. To be there for our team and for those we lead, we need to feel with them through the hurdles we will face in 2021.

Brené Brown talks to us about the nature of empathy in the animated video below. She reminds us that true empathy is the ability to connect with someone’s emotions, even if we may not have experienced the same struggle the other person is facing.

One of the things we saw time and again this year was the power of empathy in leaders and organizations. A good example of this analyzed by another one of my teammates, Yinnan Shen. Yinnan highlighted the empathy and leadership demonstrated by Arne Sorenson, the Marriott President and CEO when he delivered incredibly tough news to his employees around COVID-19. (You can read the article here).

If we want to show our people that we care for and are there for them, empathy is essential.

Empathy is the lifeblood of connection.

Stay Connected

2020 demonstrated to us the significance of connection and the toxicity of division. Recovery will not come unless we unite people together around a common goal.

2021 will require us to be connected (both literally and figuratively).

While many of us are burnt out from back-to-back Zoom meetings and jonesing to regroup in person as soon as possible, we need to remember that 2021 will be another year of change.

Next year, we must maintain connection to those who matter most to us, the corporate world calls them our stakeholders, at home we call them family.

We must find innovative ways to sustain and build connection while some people are able to regroup in person, while others are not yet able to. This means being prepared to adjust business plans (once again) and being prepared to flex your empathy muscle, because your people will need to know they are still connected to you and what you represent.

We don’t exactly know what will come next, but I have a feeling that 2021 will be a great year. And I hope you do too.