June 9, 2020

Be the leader that builds people and brands


Be the leader that builds people and brands

The necessity of consistent, decisive and empathetic leadership can never be understated, especially during uncertain times. After all, it was a combination of all these leadership attributes that got New Zealand to Alert Level 1 quicker than most other countries around the globe. Here we explore how leadership in its different forms, can catapult businesses and elevate your staff to success especially during trying times.

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Monica Kang, who is a member of the Forbes Coaching Council, wrote in her recent article the importance of how rethinking creativity can enhance positivity and clarity in today’s workplace. Kang saysIn short, rethinking creativity in the workplace is understanding how to rewire the way you think, and create, in order to be more open-minded, flexible and able to see possibilities when others see only pandemic-driven constraints”

You may think that creativity is not a form of leadership however, therein lies the problem. Great leaders require a careful balance of influence, creative thinking, empathy and problem-solving. Kang emphasises in her work that the best forms of creativity arise from one’s ability to fully comprehend how the way you choose to think influences every outcome. Kang is quoted as saying, “Our mindset is powerful. Whether it’s a pandemic, the Fourth Industrial Revolution or other complex issues that arise in the workplace, change — and chaos — is inevitable. It’s critical that we can reframe the way we navigate this uncertainty by harnessing the power of creativity”.

For marketers, leadership also plays a pivotal role in how one develops and executes profitable and sustainable marketing strategies which can guide and lead businesses during changing economies. Ty Heath, the Global Lead, B2B Institute at LinkedIn addresses the communication focus in LinkedIn’s webinar on Marketing for Today’s Evolving World of Work. Now, more than ever, it is apparent that companies have a fundamental role to play in establishing trust at a consumer level if they want to drive sustainable profits. How leaders and brands show up in their communication has become vitally important. In this webinar LinkedIn’s panel of brand leaders, strategists and researchers share the most important insights and discuss how marketers can best succeed at being the trusted and valued communicators their brands need now. Experts talk to what messaging matters to your stakeholders and how to lead with trust as communication leaders.

“These uncertain times are a true testing ground for our brand promises,” says Ty.

“Are our values aligned with the actions we're taking? When times are tough, will your brand actually back up that brand promise?”

This isn’t business as usual. We can’t just keep sending the same message as we did before. But as Ty points out, we should be remaining steadfast in our values and principles. Those don’t change. 

Closer to home, Mi9 gained some valuable insights from leading property data and analytics company CoreLogic and spoke to Rose-Marie Nathan, a Senior member of the CoreLogic team, who has worked across Government, Telco and Utilities industries, all deemed essential, through COVID-19.

Rose-Marie Nathan - Senior member, CoreLogic

Nathan is also a Founding Mentor at Her Career which adds additional insight from entry and mid-level women impacted through these circumstances in ways that are not always heard. As a senior female leader, Nathan has widely interacted with other companies during these challenging times, and she was able to gleam valuable insights and takeaways which she shared with the Mi9 team. She outlines her top five takeaways from the COVID-19 lockdown which she encourages businesses and leaders to consider over the next few months.  Nathan also strongly advises organisations and leaders to truly listen to their workforce and work as a collective union. 

“The challenge is to openly communicate and create truly safe spaces.  If you educate, empathise and empower your people, amazing things can happen”, says Nathan.

1. Be honest and real

Your workers are smart people that on the whole want to do an amazing job and add value to your organisation.  They appreciate businesses have tough calls to make, and there is never a good or easy time to let people go or impact their lives, BUT, there are better ways than most have done it to complete this journey.  Be upfront and transparent about the why and DON’T use any pretence.  If your employees get to a point where they question the integrity of managers or the organisation, it is incredibly tough to recover from.

2. Be curious not defensive

Previous simmering problems have most likely been exaggerated over this period.  Sure, not all ideas can work and there would be a huge amount of red tape to cut through to make some viable, but make sure you create spaces where people not only really feel heard but can see what is and isn’t being considered and why.  Explore some of what was discovered during lockdown for a loop of continuous feedback and always be striving for constant improvement.

3. Be kind

As Kath Koschel would say!  Those teams that were told to look after themselves and their families at the start of lockdown with companies that supported those actions with care and understanding will repay that loyalty and willingly go above and beyond.  Those that didn’t will coldly remember the stress this placed upon them and their families.

4. Walk your talk

It is great to use “of the moment buzz words” but are you authentically putting those words into action from the top down, not from the bottom up?  If you are asking your teams to take pay cuts and work less hours your Executive and Leadership need to be included in that group.  If possible, find ways as leaders where you can make personal (but of course sustainable) sacrifices for the greater good.  There is uncertainty all around and I have even heard terrible stories where wage subsidies were accepted then people let go. Don’t be those guys!

5. Use Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is vital at this time. Seek the advice of those in your leadership teams that have it and don’t discount their views as they probably speak for the many.  As an example, having an Executive speak about the hardships of cancelled social events and holiday while many in teams are considering if they can pay rent and groceries creates a vivid disconnect.

 For a more detailed outline on Nathan’s insights her video can be viewed here.

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