This article looks at the ways leaders have had to adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic. With employees working from home, work and home lives have become more intertwined, this has allowed managers to develop a better understanding and empathy of their employee’s situations. 

Key Points:

  • How Covid has resulted in leaders and employees experiencing similar personal concerns
  • Understanding why it is important for managers to understand an employee’s home situation and the impact that it may have on their work-life
  • The Athena Doctrine highlights that societal perceptions of positive leadership qualities are changing. We appreciate more traditionally ‘feminine’ attributes within leaders

We discussed with Angela Matthews, Head of Policy and Research at Business Disability Forum, how the pandemic has acted as an ‘equaliser’ between leaders and their teams [1]. She outlined how leaders should recognise that “this is a human situation, that’s happening to us as human beings, and it affects us all, potentially, in a similar way.”  

Angella went on to describe how we have begun to see a lot of leaders sending out important communications that have very human messages, such as: “Keep yourself and your loved ones safe”. These messages often extend outside the employee’s work situation, communicating an “ethic and value beyond what an organisation had communicated before”. Adjusting to a more empathetic tone has “brought a different dynamic to leadership, and also to managing employees, which is about being human…It has led to leaders considering all of those things in our home lives, that actually really do have an impact on our work.” 

The Athena Doctrine, a book publishing the result of a data-driven research project conducted by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio. Gerzema is the CEO of The Harris Poll, a public opinion, market research, and strategy firm. He is a pioneer in utilising data to identify social change and help leaders and organizations anticipate and adapt to new trends and demands. Whereas D’Antonio is a writer and journalist, focusing on politics, business and religion. He has written for well-respected publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Discover, The Times of London, and Sports Illustrated, among others. 

64,000 people in 13 nations were asked ‘What might make the world a better place?’ The data provided an overwhelming conclusion: ‘The world would be a better place if men thought more like women.’ It was found that attributes traditionally considered as female, such as compassion and modesty, were more strongly related to leadership, morality and happiness [2]. 

The study concludes: 

‘All over the globe, people realise that masculine structures no longer world. Traditional institutions and thinking built on dominance, aggression and hierarchy are succumbing to a transparent, collaborative and co-dependent world. In this time of socio-economic, political, geographic, generational and technological upheaval, the most innovative people are deploying feminine strength and values to make the world, better. The type of feminine leadership we uncovered around the world is not soft and squishy but rather, wise and quietly strong, like the Greek goddess Athena, who was known for her wisdom, skill, civility and fairness.’ [2] 

Gerzema, J., and D’Antonio, M., 2013. The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future 

Top Tips for Successful Leaders: 

  • Show compassion – your employees’ life outside of work will affect their ability to perform well at work. If employees feel supported, then they will work more effectively
  • Communicate – good communication within an organisation start with leaders. If your employees can communicate well, they will be able to work better to problem solve as a team
  • Listen – if employees feel listened to, they feel valued. This is key to retain talent.  

Following these tips and encouraging employees at every management level to adopt them will set the tone for a more inclusive workplace. In order to retain current talent, and attract new talent, organisations must begin to change what it means to be a leader. 

Sources:

[1] MGC Interview with Angela Matthews, Head of Policy and Research, Business Disability Forum, 20/10/20

[2] Gerzema, J., and D’Antonio, M., 2013. The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future 

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With employees working from home, work and home lives have become more intertwined, this has allowed managers to develop a better understanding and empathy of their employee’s situations.

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