The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that a New Leadership style is required under the current working conditions, such as managing a crisis, motivating employees in home office and having a flexible and self-organised team for unexpected business developments. In addition, it is important to provide the right direction to grow and align team and individual goals within a clear timeframe so that everyone is ready for the constantly changing way of business.

To achieve this, managers have to slip into many new roles, for example: as team coaches, empathetic managers and fire extinguishers. Why? Because they have to take care of every single employee, since each team member has become a crucial part in overcoming challenges. Every perspective counts, because the team can only achieve its goal through different opinions and complex and open discussions. It’s about autonomous thinking, being creative and innovative while actively shaping the workflow and results. In short: everyone has to take responsibility and that’s what managers have to tease out of each team member.

THE ROLE OF THE COACH AND THE EMPATHIC MANAGER 

The role of the coach is the most important, because managers have to motivate their teams, strengthen morale, align projects with the right team members and keep an eye on the individual development of the employees.

Managers should be able to hold discussions at eye level, be able to optimally assess and use the strengths and weaknesses of their team members effectively. This requires an extraordinary intuition, because only with a profound view of the employees’ characteristics is it possible to assign them to the right projects and teams instead of forcing them into an existing system. Therefore, the role of the coach is closely linked with empathic skills.

It’s not just about understanding employees, but also developing them. More humanity certainly leads to more commitment, productivity and resilience. However, in order to be able to master new situations and crises, a high level of education is required. Therefore, reflecting on and developing oneself and one’s employees are further important tasks of managers.

THE ROLE OF THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER

New Leadership is not to be confused with a cozy management style. Self-organised work, care, openness, tolerance and a culture of error are of course valued. However, the employees are also very interested in authentic leadership with a role model function – especially now, when there is great uncertainty and the situation can change every day. That is why employees also expect credibility, orientation, clear objectives and – if possible – a clear mission from their superiors.

In addition, conflict management is another core task of managers. They have to act as fire extinguishers and have to address conflicts openly in the team – even when things get uncomfortable. Because unsolved problems in the team will eventually develop into a real big fire. Therefore, managers have to contribute to erasing conflicts. If they resolve the conflict with an open and appreciative discussion culture, trust and a good working atmosphere are automatically restored.

Yes, nowadays managers have to wear a lot of hats and meet many expectations of New Leadership. Often they are not trained and feel overwhelmed without ever admitting this feeling. Organisational structures and an aligned company culture are needed to encourage managers to work on themselves and to be transparent about their construction areas. If you have any questions about how executives can grow into their new roles, please contact our Managing Director Marie (marie@doneberlin.com).