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LEADERSHIP IN TIMES OF CRISIS

Permacrisis – “an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events.”


Due to continuous disruptors like the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the relapse of the global economy, social crises, interest hikes, and loadshedding / watershedding, as leaders whether it be in the workplace or in an industry or community, it has become more and more difficult to lead during uncertainty. We are all in “survival mode” and stuck in the cycle of crisis.


From a workplace perspective, the challenge of resignations and quiet quitting is a real problem. Not only in the Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Skincare, and Beauty Industry but in other sectors as well. We have been hit with one disruption after the other, giving life and meaning to the term “permacrisis”.


How do we understand, adapt, and establish leadership trends in a “permacrisis” world? Typically, a leader in a crisis will focus on long-term strategy, ensuring that the company’s values are held intact, and prioritising the needs of clients and employees to maintain a positive public perception during the time of the crisis. Now we are required to adapt our attitudes, in how we engage others, and in how we find creative ways to do things.


New “crisis” leadership styles:

There is a great demand for authentic and servant leaders. These are leaders who are honest, transparent, and self-aware, as well as leaders who recognise that they are there for others and not others there for them. This type of leader builds trust and is the strongest predictor of job satisfaction, positively influencing the work climate, and ensuring greater productivity and higher levels of engagement. In times of crisis, it is vital that employees trust their leaders and stay engaged.


Your staff and or clients need to feel and be acknowledged, know what to expect, have the flexibility to adapt where needed, feel connected to others, and be treated fairly. Let this be your leadership guide during times of crisis as it will assist you in embracing challenges and utilising opportunities.


Emotional Intelligence (EQ):

Emotional Intelligence is a fundamental leadership attribute for shaping an engaged and high-performing company and workforce. Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to self-regulate their own emotions while empathising and connecting with others, i.e. they know how to make people feel safe and elevate people.


In times of disruption, an emotionally intelligent leader is able to remove fear, provide direction and purpose, and be present with their teams to help them navigate diverse challenges. They create a psychologically safe space where team members are encouraged to speak up, take risks, and ask for help. Skills such as self-awareness, empathy, active listening, motivation, and social skills are the foundation of a great change leader.


Holding on to our teams:

Over the past few years, we have continued to experience the “Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting”. With the pandemic compelling us to rethink our priorities and many employees disengaging, the recruitment and retaining of talent challenge is continuing to grow. This has, and will continue to, alter the workforce. In our own industry, we have seen an influx of independent contractors and more and more employees not performing to acceptable and optimal standards resulting in a loss in productivity and morale, burnout, and increased disciplinary actions needed to be taken.


Leaders need to be agile and, in order to attract and retain talent, ensure that they provide a work environment that is attractive to employees. Flexibility in terms of time and workspace, while ensuring a safe, inclusive culture, will increase your chances of retaining your loyal employees and recruiting new ones. Job fulfillment, learning opportunities, flexibility, as well as diverse and value-orientated work environments, have become requirements for many job seekers.


Staying true to the vision:

Crises test our faith in the future. When our vision – our promise to our employees – is not trusted, we risk disengaging our employees and losing valuable talent. The psychological term “holding” describes the way a person (such as a leader) contains and interprets what happens in times of uncertainty, As leaders, we have the responsibility to soothe distress (contain the crisis) and help others make sense of it (interpret the crisis) to gain their trust in our long-term vision. If leaders are unable to offer reassurance and orientate their workforce, anger, anxiety, and fragmentation will occur and, inevitably, this will fuel resignation and quiet quitting.



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