In times of uncertainty and where everything seems adverse, organizations inevitably think about minimizing potential losses, maintaining productivity and efficiency. But this is not their only challenge, the people, their collaborators, expect a leader who will guide them, recognize them and transmit the necessary trust in them to overcome this situation.
Traditionally, the concept of leadership has been related by the ability of a person to influence other people, and thus enable the achievement of objectives. In the early days of the administration, the figure of the leader was considered primarily as a guide, his function was to set a clear and unique course, through directives that were transmitted to his staff. The work of leadership responded to the concept of industrial society with a classical or Taylorist approach, in which tasks were carefully studied, standardized, and people considered one more link in the production machinery.
As time goes by, organizations also changed and management accepted that it was not enough for a leader to provide directives to meet objectives. In this respect the leader’s socio-emotional support becomes a key element where the leader emerges as one capable of obtaining the commitment of his team, motivating them to fulfill individual, group, and organizational objectives, contributing to their personal and professional development.
The leader ceased to be a supervisor and became a committed partner to the needs and expectations of all his stakeholders. The Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on society and therefore on large organizations, leaving many doubts about how to manage the way we work and the revaluation of many aspects.
How many times do we hear “personal problems remain outside the door at work”, or “you do not have to mix work with personal issues”. Phrases like these equate people with ice trays, where each space represents parts of our life, separated from each other without being able to mix. In the same way, it proposes the segmentation between rational and emotional.
The answer is no, our brain just doesn’t work like that. Affective neuroscience has already shown that human beings are emotional beings who have the ability to reason, which we do not always do to the extent that we believe or would like to.
Let’s think about the infinite personal realities of the members of the organizations that the quarantine brought with it, older adults who cannot continue with their work, the emotional pain of estrangement, anxiety before the unknown, the latent fear of disengagement, among many others.
In this framework, we propose the leader as an emotional manager, identifying and managing more cautiously and make more effective decisions.
This does not rule out the need to meet organizational objectives, but complements it to achieve them with committed people who feel part of a whole greater than their individual interests.
Right now, the most important thing is to preserve our most valuable asset, the people. Leaders must accompany their collaborators, support them, and mark a path for a better and possible future. Attending and serving is the proposal, like any crisis, we go through danger, but also an opportunity. And so, we may have learnt something as a society to move towards a better world.