‘Leadership’ , ‘Leaders’, these are all abstract names that organizations give to their front runners or those handful who are deemed capable enough to lead, create, innovate and flourish the business while delivering results, usually along with a team. In most of the organisations, the Leader is also expected to take care of his team apart from winning business and laurels for his organization.
If you look at it there always has been a debate going on about ‘whether Leaders are born or Leaders are made’. Even after studying about leadership a lot and having spent close to couple of decades in the Industry, I feel that both statements are correct. Some people are born with the characteristics to lead, to take decisions, to compete and win etc. Then there are definitely a lot people out there who have evolved over time, during crisis, during projects or simply during an operational task wherein they just lead the way with innovative ideas and pushed the projects beyond its achievable boundaries. They are then recognized, groomed and raised to Leadership levels as excellent and efficient Leaders later on through various Talent Management initiatives, succession planning etc. by the organisations.
Whether a `born Leader’ or a `groomed Leader the pertinent question to dwell upon today is, ‘Leadership during Corona Crisis’, the worst crisis mankind has seen till now.
During the past few weeks our entire country has been going through some really, unfortunate and dark times of illness and grief. There are lakhs of people who lost their lives (2.54 lakhs as I am typing this) as an aftermath in UP along 555 number of children were orphaned, some lost one parent and others lost both their parents to the deadly virus. Let us not delve into what the political Leaders make of this figure and what are they doing for these devastated families and children who are going through the trauma of untimely death of both their parents or their only bread earners along with a bleak future staring at them with no means to support their daily needs.
Let us try and find out what did the Corporate Leadership do at various organization or rather what could have been done or what can be done even now. Though cases are declining there are still people dying , families being broken and children being orphaned every day. Having gone through a very close call personally too, I feel if not much at least the following could be done by the Leaders of every organization for their employees during these very difficult and unfortunate times.
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Be there, keep in touch
A Leader can just be there, they can call up those employees who are covid positive, whose entire families have been positive, those who had been living alone without any support. A Leader could just keep in touch and show their genuine concern for the individual and his/her family by keeping a tab on their health status. They can even help them by arranging medicines or food for them through such dedicated NGOs or groups and organizations.
A Leader should definitely avoid calling the person during this time for zoom meetings and target achievement and review meetings, and even if they need to do it, they have to take care that they exclude those who are themselves sick, or attending to their sick partner or parent at hospital or atleast check with them before sending them the meeting link or asking them to join the meeting.
Extend a helping hand
If the Leader keeps in touch he would definitely know when his team member is in a crisis, there were many thousands and lakhs of people who were and who are still running helter skelter for oxygen cylinders/ concentrators, oxygen supported beds and hospital admission. The Leader can assign the rest of the team members who are healthy and they themselves can take up the task of helping the traumatized team member or their family members at this crucial juncture for finding out hospital beds, oxygen cylinder suppliers etc. It has been noted that may people lost their lives as they could not get oxygen, or hospital admission or doctors or even medicines on time.
Provide for mental support
Leaders who are in touch with their people would definitely know the needs of their employees, apart from food or medicines, it might be the need for just a shoulder to cry on as many covid patients also veer towards depression, anxiety and stress. They can definitely set up a colleague, a counsellor an HR team member to help out the employee and talk to him/her during the hour of crisis and trauma.
We all know what TATA steel (link to the article) is doing for the family of their employees who passed away due to Covid 19, it is absolutely praiseworthy and an inspiration to the entire Corporate world. May be not every organization can afford to do things matching TATA’s scale but the Leaders can definitely put their bit to push the Management to provide the employee or his/her family with immediate financial assistance to deal with hospital expenses (as many hospitals are not accepting Insurance cards), funeral expenses, daily expenditures etc. Just a phone call can also sometimes give strength to an employee or his family member who must be on the brink of giving up, you never know!
Utilizing their network
Leaders can take advantage of their connections, corporate tie ups and alumni groups etc. to help the hapless employees by calling up every number/ posting on whatsapp group on their phone to get a hard to find injection or medicine for the employee or his/her family member.
Be prepared, plan for the future
There is a strong possibility of a third wave according to experts, our Leaders and Management can take this opportunity to learn what went wrong, what can we do right next time, what data base, what procurements, what tie ups are we supposed to have in place so that the next wave does not catch us off guard and we are able to support our employees in a better way. So that we do not lose our precious talents, the bread winners of families to the unforgiving and destructive Corona virus.
Last but not the least these unprecedented times have unmasked many Leaders who were great orators, great Entrepreneurs, great zoom meeting champions and absolutely brilliant within the four walls of office. The real test was passed with flying colours by those Leaders and team mates who just smashed those walls of hierarchy, reporting, professionalism and organisational chart pyramid etc. etc. by just being there, by listening, by calling, by connecting, by understanding and by just being a great human being first by reaching out to employees in their very hour of need.
So how does it matter if he or she is a `born Leader’ or a `groomed one/ made one’, if a leader is being humane first to his employees, his team members and his organization then he needs no label, he just needs to be hailed for his humanity and compassion along with his extraordinary Leadership skills because that is what all of us need from our Leaders and fellow beings right now and always!!
The views and opinions expressed in this article/blog are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Amazing Workplaces or its founders. The descriptions shared and examples given in this article/blog do not imply the expression of any views and opinion whatsoever on the part of Amazing Workplaces or its founders.