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2020 marked the year for uncovering poor leadership

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Yahoo Finance Staff
·3 min read
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Photo: Getty
Many employees do not feel there is a clear strategy for the business in a time of crisis, according to a study. Photo: Getty

The coronavirus pandemic marked a change in employee engagement forever. While the crisis will end at some point, the way jobs will operate in the future — increasingly digital and more spread out — will never be the same, and with that the way leadership needs to communicate.

A crisis is a flashpoint in separating real leaders from performative posers with a lofty job title. It’s not just about ordering colleagues on what to do. Real leadership is complex mix of authenticity, empathy, accountability, clear vision and strategy, and getting stuck in when the going gets tough. It’s about problem solving to hit goals and adapting to the ever-changing landscape in the wider world.

Unlike a financial crisis, a health pandemic has meant that workforces are practically all digital and spread across millions of locations. At the heart of keeping workforces engaged and productive comes communication and messaging and being clear on strategy.

However, according to a new report by consultancy Paul Furey, many employees do not feel there is a clear strategy for the business in a time of crisis, over one quarter of employees do not feel their leader cares for them and a lack of clarity undermines trust.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is shining a light on their leadership skills — not just in terms of effective decision-making, but also how well they really stay in touch with other people,” said Paul Furey, who has over 30 years’ experience of working with senior management teams and helping them improve the ways they interact with each other and the wider business.

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“What may be seen by employees as ambiguous actions by leaders because they have not been fully explained, but can make leaders look like they are confused, indecisive or worse, worried, and panicking.”

The research was conducted by Consumer Intelligence, on behalf of Paul Furey, in October 2020 among 1,047 UK workers across multiple industries and fields.

It found that:

  • Just 25% of employees feel there is an obvious plan when asked if their company’s leadership seem to know what they’re doing at the moment.

  • Just 36% said most of the time they knew what was going on.

  • Some 32% said that this wasn’t always clear.

  • And 5% said they ‘didn’t have a clue.’

Employees were also just as despondent about awareness of a clear company strategy and their understanding of their role in it — just 24% of employees said that this was 100% clear.

“Similarly, lack of communication might come across as lack of caring. Leaders need to take the trouble to get to know the circumstances in which their team members – and their partners and families – are living,” said Furey.

“The need for pastoral care alongside management of the deliverables is, as they say, a no brainer. Leaders omit to exercise genuine caring at the cost of their people, and ultimately, to their organisation. First goes trust alongside engagement, then soon after productivity and eventually loyalty to your brand.”

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