Echoes in the storm: leading with listening in an era of disruption Business News

Remesh is a Business Reporter client.

In the past five years, our world has changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We’ve faced the challenges of Covid-19, which has changed how we live and work. New tech, such as generative AI, is transforming our businesses, while powerful cultural movements, such as Black Lives Matter, have prompted deep reflections on fairness and justice. This melding of sociopolitical and technological shifts urges us to rethink our roles as business leaders. It beckons for leadership strategies that equip our businesses to navigate the unpredictable waters of relentless change.

During these tumultuous times, leaders find themselves at a crossroads: actively foster connection, or embrace isolation? Sometimes we can become overwhelmed by the pace of change in the world today, and retreat in the hopes of finding safety. And that’s natural – a lot of us have learned to find a false sense of safety in relying entirely on our own abilities, at the exclusion of others.

Yet this can lead to critical missteps because it detaches you from on-the-ground realities. More and more, I see CEOs become overly narrow in their decision making, almost as if they are in a panicked state. They choose to withhold essential information, resulting in their teams struggling to see the throughline of their decisions, which leads to poorer company performance.

In contrast, involvement leads to commitment. Leaders who foster open dialogue and actively pursue feedback and connection often discover strategies for their organisations to be more resilient. Effective communication across all levels ensures those organisations remain agile and robust amid the chaos.

In 2023 alone, nearly 500 US businesses filed for bankruptcy, surpassing the numbers from both 2022 and 2021. Moreover, over 1,000 companies laid off more than 200,000 employees, a 45 per cent increase year over year. These troubling statistics highlight the profound challenges businesses and their employees face every day.

These situations are popping up everywhere. While this may be a truth you hear constantly in today’s world, this point needs to be emphasised and intuitively understood: the era of top-down decision making at the expense of employees, or Theory X management, where senior leaders operate in silos, is fast becoming obsolete. It’s a strategy out of touch with current realities. Moreover, it severely diminishes the potential of your most valuable competitive advantage: your people.

To illustrate the power of listening, pretend you have been involved in a shipwreck. Waves towering over you like mountains, pushing the ship in directions that are out of your control. To survive in such a dire situation, what do you do? All your training and experience are hard to pull from if you have never found yourself in a situation like this.

In any disorienting event, where our previous understandings are nullified and thrust us into unchartered territory, our past training and experiences might seem distant or irrelevant. In such critical moments we have learned that the power of listening and communication is a leader’s shining beacon of hope. Directly connecting with employees or people on the front lines offers a lifeline. It’s through real-time exchange of information and insights that we can adapt to the fluidity of the situation, using the collective intelligence to help navigate these tumultuous scenarios.

But listening is more than a survival tactic; it’s a strategy for flourishing. And it all starts by understanding the type of leader you wish to be and the kind of organisation you aspire to shape.

The need for nimble and responsive employee listening tools

Many organisations have some form of listening method, the most common being the employee survey. Yet, there is still a need for a more nimble and nuanced understanding of on-the-ground realities. Tools that offer swift deployment, immediate analysis, and actionable insights will have the most impact.

This is where tech innovations, such as the AI-powered Remesh platform, can become invaluable. Leaders can initiate live conversations with large employee groups or dive deep with asynchronous surveys, ensuring the organisation’s collective voice is truly heard with a few clicks of a button. A common gripe among employees about traditional feedback methods is lack of action post-feedback. Their valuable insights seem to dissipate without noticeable change or acknowledgment. This can erode trust and dampen morale. As one of the forefathers of employee motivation at work, M S Vitales, once said, “An attitude survey is like a hand grenade – once you pull the pin, you have to do something with it. Otherwise, it may hurt you rather than help you.”

Ensuring anonymity and psychological safety in feedback collection

One element we are seeing become increasingly important when soliciting genuine feedback is anonymity and psychological safety. While this approach has clear trade-offs,…

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This notice was published: 2023-11-16 10:10:15

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