Hazards to trust

By Rick James

The other week we looked at how trusted leaders responded in the first stage of COVID. But many places have now moved into a second stage, where the medical crisis is giving way to an economic crisis. What does this mean for leaders today?

This second stage places particular moral hazards for leaders to maintain trust from being seen as ‘benevolent’ (‘on my side’). Technology has enabled more contact between different levels of staff. On the whole, this has made leaders appear more accessible, humane and empathetic. But having broken down the barriers of formality, how then do both parties deal with uncomfortable conversations about redundancies? How will that exposure to the fragility of home lives play out when making difficult decisions? Will the ‘mutuality of sacrifice’ be sustained into this next stage? 

In addition, health issues may not end soon. There may be a backlog of trauma and stress from the last 18 months, particularly for any NGOs and churches working on the frontline. Many staff may be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted (and leaders too). To be seen as benevolent and therefore trusted, you may need to become champions of physical and mental health for your hybrid workforces. This was probably not on the list of core leadership competencies when you started your job!

How do you think your co-workers would assess whether you are not ‘on their side’?
What one thing could you do differently this week to show that you genuinely care?

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