Inspire in the times of Uncertainty!


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Leadership Storehouse

COVID-19 has hit everyone hard around the globe. From people losing their jobs to the businesses coming to a standstill. Such situations are unforeseen in the corporate world, where ‘Hope’ takes a backseat and ‘Fear’ triggers in. Consequently, Leaders are the torch bearers of confidence and hope for the employees. When Survival is the ultimate goal, keeping your workforce inspired and motivated can be very challenging. As a leader, you must be asking yourself, how can your team and business grow during and after the pandemic?
Harvard Business Review has pointed out a shift in the priorities of the organization leaders towards their employees amidst the Pandemic. Along with the Safety need, the CEOs emphasize on satisfying the ‘Higher Order Needs’ of the employees.
Recollecting what Maslow (1943, 1970) had proposed a few decades back, higher order needs are a person’s cognitive, intangible, and upward growth demands. Throughout and after the pandemic, employees not only demanded a sense of belongingness and confidence but also a realization of their hidden talents and higher intellectual abilities. Maslow (1962) believed that we often fear “our best side, . . . our talents, . . . our finest impulses, . . . our creativeness”. Exploring our abilities brings happiness and fear, fear of the Unknown responsibilities! If a company motivates its employees to upskill, learn, and discover their abilities, then there is a high chance for the employees to thrive during the pandemic. Such a company will grow and sustain itself in the market. Due to the pandemic, leaders are improving their strategies and adopting a humanistic approach; encouraging the employees to seek out new ventures.

Considering the pandemic and its devastating impacts on the economy and ecosystem, driving employees to find Meaning in their lives should be a prime concern of any leader.

One of the best approaches a leader can opt for is Transformational Leadership. As the name implies, this style transforms people into achieving something larger than what is usually expected. It motivates followers to find meaning in their lives and their work. The leader inculcates values, ethics, standards, and long term goals in the employees.

In 1973, Downton coined the term Transformational Leadership and its research was carried forward by Burns (1978). Transformational Leadership is not just a style but a process where:

  • A leader engages with the employees.
  • Identifies their needs.
  • Builds a connection of morality.
  • Communicates the virtues that are greater than the self.

Such leaders motivate their followers to look within themselves and identify their best qualities. In other words, transformational leaders help their followers to reach the Self Actualization stage where a person performs with full potential.

A thick line that differentiates transformational leaders from transactional leaders is the power to Transcend the self-interests and go beyond to achieve the vision. Burns gave a classic example of a transformational leader as Mahatma Gandhi, who not only fought for freedom but empowered the masses to transcend their self- interests and work for the social cause. Giving them a sense of purpose, such leaders create Leaders!

Transformational Leadership

Paul Gaugin posed three basic questions ‘Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?’ to find out the meaning of human existence. These questions correspond to the intricacies of leadership. Leaders can answer these questions through this approach.

Bernard A. Bass (1985) described the four I’s of Transformational leadership. Bass put forth that the transformational leaders motivate the followers to achieve the Greater Good by using the four I’s. Such leaders have strong internal value sets and exhibit a personal connection with the followers.

Charisma or the Idealized Influence of the leader facilitates:

  • The emotional connection between the followers and the leader.
  • The followers admire the leader
  • Show great respect towards them.
  • They idolize the leader and wish to emulate them.

A relationship of trust and belongingness develops. As it develops, the leader shares the vision and mission with them. The idealized influence is a powerful component that brushes off any disregards, distrust, and conflicts between the leader and its followers. Along with the great vision and Charismatic qualities of Nelson Mandela, he transformed the entire Nation!

Quick Tip -

 Make your employees feel safe, worthy, and important in the times of crises. This will lead to trust building. Share a vision that they can look forward to when they feel helpless.

A leader’s word of encouragement defines Inspirational Motivation. Transformational leaders are the best in inspiring the employees.
  • They give pep talks.
  • Share their personal lessons and inspire through their actions.
  • Motivate the employees to achieve the goals.
  • Team spirit is reinforced and rewarded.
In the most uncertain times, uplifting employees and followers, showing them a hope, believing in them, and communicating their worth is very important.

Quick Tip -

Keep a session for understanding their needs, narrate your personal success story, give small pep talks when required, and encourage through your actions.
Keep a session for understanding their needs, narrate your personal success story, give small pep talks when required, and encourage through your actions.
  • To creatively come up with the solutions.
  • Challenge the thoughts of the leader.
  • Bring about constructive change in the culture of the organization.
  • Take up decision making and implement them.
Intellectual stimulation is necessary in the times of crisis for enhancing focus and outcome of the employees.

Quick Tip -

Give small and achievable creative exercises, ask them to come up with ideas to enhance productivity while working from home, and reinforce team activities.
Individualized Consideration is given to all the employees. As discussed above, transformational leaders are very perceptive towards their followers’ needs. Transactional leaders may look for only work- related needs, but transformational leaders:
  • Go beyond the work boundaries.
  • Guide the employees in their personal pursuits!
  • Create a strong personal and mature bond.
  • Empower the employee to face challenges in personal and professional life!
Here the role of the leader varies as per the situation. It can be very direct or could be delegation or just guidance.

Quick Tip -

Do a needs analysis, empower the employees with constructive strategies, guide and delegate mindfully.

So to summarize, let’s answer the above questions through these components. ‘Where do we come from?’- To answer your first question, let your employees know about your ideals, values, and ethics through an Idealized Influence.

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