As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic linger on, the war in Ukraine has plunged the world into turmoil. People are struggling, and many are worrying about their loved ones. At a time when so many are exhausted, we now may have new anxieties related to the economic impact of the Ukraine war.
In this context, businesses must once again expand their remit to balance short-term and long-term challenges and measures. Quickly assessing and planning for inflation, anticipating the Ukraine war supply chain impact, and securing operations and systems are all top of mind during these times of leadership under crisis. At the same time, leaders will likely prioritize the physical and mental well-being of their people. They need to be flexible and creative in rethinking their HR people strategy to anticipate and manage talent shortages.
In this volatile environment, leading with compassion and communicating with clarity and honesty may be key to supporting people, while managing through business constraints and challenges.
I offer the following principles to consider, which may help you guide your people in these difficult times and support them to maintain productivity and trust in your business.
VIEW THE INFOGRAPHIC
Principle #1: Always act with care and show compassionate leadership
Even though they may be worried about the business impact of the Ukraine war, purpose-driven leaders are guided by a moral compass and empathy. Their focus is on their people. To follow the compassionate leadership principle, you can:
Be compassionate, caring and transparent in your communication: Our research conducted during the COVID-19 crisis found that people look to leaders for compassion, care and confidence in navigating a crisis and setting a direction for the future. You don’t have to know everything, but you do need to be transparent about what is driving decisions.
Conduct listening sessions to assess well-being and promote employee belonging for all workers. Expectations that business leaders are responsible for their people’s well-being heighten in times of crisis. Use Accenture’s Net Better Off framework to evaluate where your people stand on the relational, emotional, mental and physical dimensions of well-being.
Offer support to help employees. Workers are stressed—even burnt out—from navigating the pandemic. This war may only magnify these feelings. Consider confirming that mental health services and other key resources are available to vulnerable and resilient workers alike.
Principle #2: Support people at all levels of the organization
This is a critical time when leaders will be stretched thin. Especially in Europe, where most of my clients are, the eurozone economic outlook may be a matter of high concern, but success and growth in Europe will likely depend on whether leaders and their workforces remain aligned and engaged. To manage this situation, you can:
Prioritize well-being and self-care for all. Leaders will need to care for others and for themselves, by asking for input and adopting a collaborative approach to help ensure belonging in the workplace.
Elevate the voices of people at all levels. To inspire trust, leaders need to listen, learn and act—individually and collectively, by implementing a solid listening framework to help make sure all voices are heard. Don’t just follow waterfall communications from the top down—request and incorporate your people’s feedback into top decisions.
Understand people’s needs. Focus on solving their top priorities to the utmost extent possible.