Mere weeks into the COVID-19 multinational pandemic crisis, technology leaders around the globe were solving problems in real time via digital communication tools. Now, months later, their focus is on softer leadership skills to help guide and motivate their teams.

Thanks to a host of leadership skills such as compassion, empathy and listening to understand, today’s workforce has found strength in this time of uncertainty. Key practices within this skillset are a dedication to clear and articulate communication, a respect and care for employees and customers and the ability to think and act quickly through difficult decisions.

During the recent HMG Live! Atlanta CIO Virtual Summit on May 14, industry luminaries including Lee Crump, Group VP and CIO, Rollins, Inc.; Dr. Ken Russell, Chief Innovation Officer, Curran Biotech and Dan Webber, VP, IT and CIO, UST Global joined the HMG Strategy community in discussing courageous leadership through the current global crisis, and the humble and empathetic characteristics exhibited by today’s premier trailblazers.

Authentic and Open Communication

Digital tools have enabled the work-from-home environment for companies across the globe over the past few months. However, world-class leadership teams know that staying on track is about more than just providing access to these tools— it’s about the ability to connect with team members, business partners and customers.

”It's not about the technology, but how we use it to interact with people,” Russell said.

It’s also important to approach problems from a variety of perspectives and lead effectively through the crisis by heeding advice from all levels of the enterprise.

 “Listening is critical in a crisis — listening to your customers, to employees and fellow executives,” Webber said.

Clear, open communication is a two-way street, so invoking an understanding of what your team needs means keeping open ears and an open mind. Maintaining a rhythm and timbre to these interactions will help to promote clarity across the organization.

Placing Your People First

The very first step in staying productive as an organization has to be looking out for employee and customer well-being. Determine whether the team is in the right place to move forward and innovate.

“A courageous and motivated leader is aware of the importance of everyone's contributions, impact and value to their organizations,” Russell said.

In addition, a courageous leader is not afraid to exhibit their vulnerabilities and speak up when they do not have all of the answers. This approach will help promote a deeper connection through the organization and demonstrate compassion for the team.

“I think the key to leadership is honesty and clarity,” Crump said. “If you don't care about people, you shouldn't be in management.”

These leadership qualities have become more important than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has the world on lockdown. It is crucial to understand that most are working under added stress.

Navigating Challenging Decisions

Added stress at the leadership level often manifests as the responsibility to take prompt action and wrestle with difficult choices. Leaders have to make decisions quickly, but not ones that will box their organization into a corner.

Premier leaders keep to heart the best interests of the enterprise while still working to provide the best solutions to employees and customers. When a crisis of this magnitude changes the operations of so many businesses worldwide, some leaders have had to make the most difficult decisions of all.

“The hardest thing as a leader always should be the cuts that have to be made,” Crump said. “We care about our people, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Of course, with the broader image in mind, even the most compassionate and considerate leaders should understand that the endgame is to protect the organization and move forward through survival mode.

Crump said, “Difficult decisions made in the C-suite are vital to ensuring there is a business to come back to.”

Demonstrating Humble Leadership

Built upon a solid foundation of compassionate and authentic leadership, the rate of technological acceleration through an emergency of this scale, for many organizations, has been incredible.

Technology leaders agree that this level of success would not be possible if executives remained hung-up on trivial details for too long. Great leaders are not afraid to march into the unknown and understand that for today’s world: speed is success.

At the moment, it seems like the business world has come out of shock. The future of work likely exists in a hybrid-digital world— but for today the enterprise is comfortable functioning in a virtual space.

“Eventually, we are going to have America reopen,” Webber said. “But people are really happy and getting used to these new remote services.”

Listen to more of the incisive strategies and cutting-edge leadership tactics these rock stars shared by watching the archived recording of the HMG Live! Atlanta CIO Virtual Summit on HMG Strategy’s YouTube channel.

To learn more about HMG Live! and stay informed about upcoming Virtual Experiences, click here.