Leading an organisation under normal conditions is hard. Now consider how much harder it is to lead through a crisis such as the global pandemic we are experiencing at present. During a time of such adversity, what does great leadership look like?
We are all familiar with the traits of great leaders: Strategic thinking, taking accountability, being effective communicators, having a clear vision, being decisive, acting with integrity, serving others, and the list goes on. While this has become the accepted standard for great leadership, leading in times of crisis demands so much more.
At Analyze we are fortunate to have a great leader who has tackled the organisational impact of this pandemic with empathy and humility, vulnerability and authenticity, clarity, transparency, and most of all hope. We are proud and immensely privileged to be led by our CEO, Cathy Banks.
Empathy is one of the strongest leadership skills that is consistently demonstrated by Cathy. Her ability to put herself in someone else’s shoes is remarkable and something we can all learn from. This is exactly what she did when the effects of lockdown started impacting our business. Her number one priority? Protecting the jobs and salaries of Analyze staff.
Many organisations talk about people over profits, but at Analyze it was put into action when leaders within the organisation made personal sacrifices to keep the team together and limit the impact of the crisis on the staff. Cathy took the time to connect with each staff member individually, driven out of her genuine concern for each and every one of us on both a professional and personal level, while acknowledging that everyone’s circumstances are different and therefore wanting to get a better understanding of how we were being impacted. She continues to ensure that our staff feel protected and reassured that they are the most important assets of our organisation.
“Cathy deeply cares for all staff above profits.”
“Cathy ensures that the team feels protected, valued and important to the organisation.”
“During this pandemic, Cathy has kept abreast of the situation on the ground and empathetically interacted with every employee as a human.”
Vulnerability as a leader allows you to not only show your most authentic self, but also to be comfortable with not always having all the answers. Because let’s face it, in times of uncertainty, leaders simply cannot have all the answers. Cathy embraces the uncertainty and openly discusses the challenges and risks to our organisation with staff on a regular basis. She focusses on what is in our control as an organisation and encourages all staff to do the same. She intentionally reaches out to staff to understand their concerns and addresses these concerns through clear feedback. She openly shares how she is feeling and how lockdown is impacting her and reinforces the message that it is okay to not be okay during this time.
“She doesn’t pretend that everything is okay.”
“Her willingness to hear everyone’s concerns and proposals.”
“She has a great ability to make everybody feel seen and heard.”
Transparency in leadership is about keeping your staff informed by sharing both the good and the bad. While the good news is always easier to share, the true test in leadership is how you communicate the bad news. Great leaders take responsibility and ownership in difficult circumstances and manage them with courage and humility. In the face of uncertainty, and with risk causing tremendous pressure on our organisation, Cathy has had an amazingly calming presence. She is always mindful of not creating panic while still being truthful and realistic about the challenges that we face as an organisation and its possible impacts. When communicating difficult messages to our team, she does it with empathy, compassion, and hope. This assures us that we are in this together and that we will make it through together as well.
“The openness with which she communicates to reassure, to dispel doubt and uncertainty.”
“There is open and honest communication, every decision has been thought through and there is a reason for each action that has been taken.”
“She is a transparent leader and she makes me feel safe and informed even in difficult times.”
The ability to instil hope is a critical leadership trait, especially during a time of crisis. It allows staff to rally together behind a vision and mission, and to believe that together this can be achieved. Hope together with decisiveness and clarity in direction is a powerful force for driving an organisation forward to achieve results, even in times of uncertainty.
“She makes room for us to hold onto hope in this new time.”
“Being optimistic despite not knowing what the future holds.”
“I hope to someday be that kind of inspirational leader.”
“Her quick and incisive action made sure that the organisation was well-poised to ride out the rough waves that ensued as well as keep every one of us safe in the different client environments.”
Leading an organisation through crisis is not easy. The staff at Analyze would like to commend and thank our CEO, Cathy Banks, for leading us with the empathy, vulnerability, transparency and hope that was needed to help us through this difficult time.
Do you have your own story of inspirational leadership through this time of crisis?
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