As we attempt to navigate life during these unprecedented times, we are left with many unanswered questions. How long will we be in quarantine; how will our kids go to school; and how will I be able to work to support my family? These are many common questions that many people across the world have considered and unfortunately, are difficult to answer. Many schools have closed for the rest of the school year and have switched to online learning, while most businesses have closed temporarily and are allowing their employees work from home or have closed the business permanently. This situation can be very difficult for people who rely on their jobs to support themselves and who don’t have much money saved. Those who now are working from home may experience difficulty with making this transition, especially older people who may not be well verse on using computers for certain tasks. This remote working may initially lead to a decline in work productivity and may discourage many employees. As a way to solve this problem, employers need to take on a servant leadership role in order to allow employees the ability to adjust to their new roles. This form of leadership highlights the ability for leaders to listen to the concerns of their employees, or followers, and nurture them (Northouse, 2016). Leaders are very supportive and encourage them by guiding them and providing them with advice. In an article from Forbes by Shane Paladin (2020), it is suggested that companies should establish a work environment that empowers their employees and give them autonomy to create their own unique experiences as they adjust to the new ways of working. Several ways to initiate this leadership are discussed in order to smoothly transition people during a rather turbulent time across the world.
The pandemic has altered people’s lives very drastically and within a very short period of time. No one expected this virus to develop into the global crisis it now is. People have been ordered to not leave their houses, unless it is an emergency and must practice social distancing. Most of us have never lived in times such as the ones we are facing now, and this new way of life for people may take time to adjust to. As a way for companies to deal with this, employers can lead with empathy (Paladin, 2020). If leaders have patience and allow their employees time to collect themselves and evaluate where things stand, regarding changes in their family and work, employees may feel less worried about having to immediately get back to work. In addition, if employees feel that their employers understand what they are going through, they may feel validated and that their employers care more about them than about getting work done (Northouse, 2016). By giving people the space they need, they may feel more motivated to get back to work once they are ready and be more productive.
Another important tactic that employers can exercise in order to navigate through these difficult times is to honor commitments (Paladin, 2020). With so much uncertainty about what the future holds for everything in society, having some sort of consistency with their work may be extremely helpful for employees. Companies can assist with this by being able to follow through on their commitments and form strong relationships with the employees. Having an employer who people can trust and rely on during difficult times may reassure employees that these times are only temporary and they will come out of this stronger. If an employer gives his employees 2 weeks to adjust to this change and does not require them to work during this time, the employers needs to follow through on this promise and provide them the support they need. When a leader takes on a servant leadership role, especially during times of crisis, they give their followers the time to heal and care solely on their wellbeing (Northouse, 2016). In a company, they will prioritize their employees and worry about productivity later. Once the employees feel better about the situation, companies can then begin slowly bringing everyone back to work, whether it be in person or remotely.
Leaders can also promote and accept change within the company in order to ease the transition during these times. One way that organizations can help with this is to reward those who take the initiative and create ideas that may be useful to others within the company (Paladin, 2020). For instance, if an employee thinks of a way to have meetings remotely with everyone at the company, they should be recognized for this and encourage others to do the same. Allowing followers the ability to explore new avenues of doing things that they may not have been accessible to before, they can become visionaries formulate new plans and goals. If employees are given more freedom to make decisions regarding their work, they may be able to grow as an individual and develop new skills and perspectives that they may have not been accessible to before (Northouse, 2016). These ideas may be able to improve the efficiency of the company and increase productivity. For instance, if there is a team project that several employees are working on, they can use platforms such as Google Docs or Slides that allow people to work on the project at the same time, even if they are not altogether. Exploring different ways to accomplish a goal can make people more compelled to continue this behavior and foster innovative thinking and be able to express themselves better. A company’s growth is largely determined by the willingness for the employees to expand their minds and promote change. Leaders who use the servant approach are better able to support their employees and encourage change in order to promote innovation and development.
Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
Paladin, S. (2020). Leadership Is A Service: 3 Ways To Navigate Volatility And Drive Change. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2020/04/02/leadership-is-a-service-3-ways-to-navigate-volatility-and-drive-change/#66f662f5597e