For many of us this pandemic has kicked our backsides and then some.

We’ve seen industry sectors brought to their knees, our way of working changed literally overnight and a level of uncertainty about our job security that is unsettling to say the least.  And even if you are lucky enough to work in a sector that has maintained the status quo or even grown over the past few months no-one has escaped the stress that comes with worrying about the well-being of our loved ones, the stress of lockdown and disconnection of living and working in a bubble.

And yet life goes on, the world keeps turning and some people manage to thrive despite the chaos.

It has been fascinating to watch how some leaders respond to the changes in their work environment and the new challenges facing their teams.  I have always believed that a crisis brings out the best in people and I wanted to share the top ten characteristics of workplace leaders that can only be described as “pand-EPIC”.

Optimistic They have an innate optimism always hopeful and confident about the future.  Without belittling the serious impact of COVID they are able to buoy their teams with a balanced view of what is to come, how they can make the best of a tough situation, as well as look for opportunities to learn and grow.  They do not allow their teams to dwell on the negative or become overwhelmed about what might happen.  Effortlessly positive they bring perspective and some relief with a ready smile and an open ear.

Real Balancing their optimistic outlook they are also unfailingly real and do not hide away from uncomfortable conversations.  They are confident discussing worst case scenarios and are solution oriented in their approach to addressing possible negative outcomes.  This can look like a team member having genuine concerns about their job security and their manager openly and honestly discussing those possibilities whilst also working with them to build solutions just in case they are needed.

Practical With teams working remotely the Pand-EPIC leader is practical to the core.  Getting back to basics in relation to what it is their team needs to get their jobs done, stay safe and sane whilst working from home.  It’s like they have an inner Maslows Hierachy of Needs operating system that covers the most practical elements of what their team needs and asks the important questions.  Are you safe?  Are your family safe?  How are you?  What do you need?  How can I help?  How will you let me know if you need anything?

Inquisitive Which is a lovely segue to the natural curiosity and inquisitiveness of our pand-EPIC leader.  They take nothing for granted, nothing is assumed.  They know that their teams may not even know what help to ask for at this time.  So they ask probing questions.  They know that understanding their teams home work environment, childcare situation, external pressures are all factors that play in their teams well-being, productivity and performance.  They ask question to understand so that they can create appropriate solutions.

Disciplined Our pand-EPIC leader is also disciplined and by this I mean they are excellent at creating routines that make their teams feel safe.  Daily telephone check-ins, weekly ZOOM team meetings, the odd WhatsApp message with a smiley face.  They create processes and routines that instil new working patterns that everyone can rely on helping give structure, consistency and a sense of normality even when everything has changed.

Tech Curious Rather than being tech savvy they are tech curious.  They use their inquisitiveness to find practical technical solutions with a focus on new and innovative ways to stay in touch with everyone, maintain productivity and continue the teams growth & development.  Whether this is sharing an app like Calm with a team member who is stressed out or using the VideoAsk app to send personalised videos.  They know technology can bring people together, raise performance and stay healthy.

Coach Even though times are particularly challenging they focus on using this situation as a learning experience and to build the teams core strength.  They challenge the team to take ownership of their new way of working, to look for opportunities to improve and do things differently, to stay outcome focused and avoid excuses.  They implicitly know that this is an opportunity for the team to develop their levels of personal and professional resilience, that the team can come out of this more closely bonded and with an attitude that “nothing will get us down”.

Holistic The best coaches take into account every part of a team member.  They know that performance and productivity are intrinsically linked to an individuals mental health and physical wellbeing.  They know that the stress of caring for their families whilst working from home and being disconnected from their loved ones has an impact on their stress levels.  They know that “leaving your personal life at the door” no longer applies (if it ever really did).  The pand-EPIC leader makes sure that the team are being cared for and taking care of themselves.

Driven  Last but not least our pand-EPIC leader is driven and never takes their eye off the ball when it comes to delivering what the company needs to survive and thrive in these uncertain economic times.  They see opportunities to improve team performance, to run with new ways of working, to leverage the accelerated digital transformation within their organisations.  They know that staying focused on results increases the likelihood of everyone having a job when all this is over and their team will look back and be proud of what they have accomplished together.

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