As people begin the slow return to normality – in whichever form it may take – over the coming months, the usual greetings, handshakes and hugs won’t be possible. With the familiar arsenal of gestures out of bounds, leaders need to replace physical signals with emotional intelligence and empathy.
Authenticity is an essential element of providing reassurance and familiarity, when so many other aspects of the workplace have changed. For a leader, being authentic is being true to your values and your personal brand, being open and honest in terms of what you communicate and being prepared to deliver bad news messages in a supportive way.
The values and culture of an organisation must come from the very top, so if its leaders aren’t authentic and don’t truly believe in what they’re delivering, the organisation will suffer. Its people won’t be able to connect their roles with values and outcomes, which is incredibly important for engagement and productivity.
It’s going to be even more important over the coming months with all the difficult decisions that need to be made, and the grief and change that people at all levels are dealing with. Honest relationships and the ability for teams to genuinely believe their leaders are being ethical will make a big difference to morale.
Leaders need to be positive, promote openness, and be prepared to talk from the heart.