In the age of Covid19, deciphering the formula for good leadership growth
Over the last year, corporate operations have been interrupted, and business executives have been forced to make decisions on the fly without access to toolkits, handbooks, or best practises.
While many innovative ideas have emerged as a result of the process, businesses must make a concerted effort to grow their workforces into agile, forward-thinking leaders. Amazon Corporate talked about how it helped leaders and workers hone their leadership skills over the past year in an exclusive session with HR chief Deepti Varma, HR Director, APAC and Middle East.
What has been the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on leaders and managers?
Middle managers, according to experts and study reports, have been under the most stress in the past year, aside from those who have been laid off. They had to take pay cuts in most industries, determine which team members to fire, and work hard to keep their teams active and motivated when working from home.
“This is a time of considerable uncertainty,” says Jacob Hirsh, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. You don’t know what you’re going to do or how you’re supposed to do it as a manager.”
Managers and leaders have been asked to go the extra mile without being instructed on how to do so or being supported in the process. As a result, while they have been given responsibility for the well-being of their teams, they have neglected their own well-being.
The Amazon approach to enabling successful leadership
To help managers and leaders cope with the changes in the Covid period, Amazon took a two-pronged approach:
Managers took a step back from their well-established and reported day-to-day operations and responsibilities as their task and scope expanded. Teams were given the freedom to set their own goals, monitor their own progress, and make joint decisions.
Despite being applied in a small part of the enterprise, this model assisted in reducing stress and improving individual efficiency. It relieved one person of the pressure of decision-making, allowing team members to navigate obstacles on their own. As everyone felt more represented and accountable, the atmosphere and conversation in these teams changed as well.
To be clear, this does not imply that the manager’s job has been eliminated. Simply diverting their talents, time, and energy to producing the most rewarding experiences for their team members was the company’s priority. Managers were more motivated to look after their teams because they weren’t held back by regular reports and mechanical activities, and as a result, efficiency in all positions increased dramatically.
Developing new-generation leadership skills and abilities
Along with lowering the burden, new-age ability development was also emphasised. The following are the highest priorities:
Agility: The aim is to help leaders make fast decisions and confidently explore uncharted territory. Today, agility entails going beyond responding to threats and anticipating them in order to find solutions ahead of time.
Empathy: If there’s one thing that leaders constantly struggle at, it’s being empathetic, which makes judging the body language and sound of a video call all the more challenging. Recognizing the effort, sending thank-you notes, and remembering what members of the team are going through have never been more important. Create an atmosphere in which leaders are empathic and supportive of their teams.
Ability to learn and change: One of Amazon’s defining mottos is “Learn and Be Curious,” and we helped all of our leaders unlearn redundant information, get up to speed on new changes, and be open to making them permanent. The pandemic has shown that the ability to adapt and learn is likely what separates success from failure.
Willingness to admit and learn from mistakes: Managers who accept and learn from their errors are unquestionably better at leading their teams. Rather than reprimanding employees for their errors, the company rewarded them by releasing error correction papers. To encourage them to take chances, make mistakes, and learn from them is the aim.
Mechanisms for developing leadership at all levels
The following principles must guide the process of developing competent leadership at all levels of the organization:
Communication is important.
When Amazon employees open their laptops to begin working, the first thing they see is a pop-up question about how they are feeling. Every day, the question shifts in order to better understand how they feel about big and small issues, such as policy reform, a recent occurrence, or a major milestone.
The manager will see these anonymous responses, which makes them understand what the team needs. In reality, these pop-up quizzes were the basis of many of our work-from-home policies. As a result, managers must be able to communicate both top-down and bottom-up in order to lead their teams.
Collaboration is important.
Although virtual collaboration is more complicated than in-person collaboration, the silver lining is that there is virtually no limit on who you can collaborate with today. There are no more limitations, and everyone on your team, regardless of their location, can now collaborate with you. Individuals and associations have a new world of opportunities to work with new partners as a result of this, and the results are visible.
As a result, teamwork and efficiency tools are just as good as you make them. They will help workers overcome new problems and take on new endeavours if used correctly.
Finally, leadership requires thinking outside the box and in a different way than most. Not only for leaders but also for staff, being innovative in approach and perspective is critical.
These innovative ideas can come from all levels of the company, and their implementation will make workers feel more linked, noticeable, and respected. Using a person’s imagination for the good of a greater community and resulting in a meaningful outcome would provide them with a very satisfying work experience.
To summarise, companies who want to develop their workers into good leaders must go beyond mentoring. Leaders should not be required to be experts in all areas, but should be given the freedom to develop their own unique leadership style and learn on the job.
Employees who aspire to lead their teams and organisations, on the other hand, should begin by learning to listen carefully. All other good leadership skills are built on this foundation. It’s worth remembering that one school of thinking holds that a leader’s job is to unblock their team, assist them in working independently, and take responsibility for any mistakes they make.