Leading in Times of Crisis – Questions and Answers
Executive Coach Thomas Gelmi in an interview about the demands on managers in the current situation
No one had seen it coming so quickly and the consequences were also considerably underestimated. Covid-19 changed life and work worldwide practically overnight. The current situation places very special demands on leadership. In an interview, executive coach and sparring partner for managers Thomas Gelmi, who supports companies during and after the crisis, explains what these demands are and why it becomes now especially obvious who is able to truly lead people.
Thomas, it is currently becoming apparent who is a good leader. In your opinion, what does a good manager need to bring to the table so that she and her team can master the current challenges?
For the time being, the essential attitude for a manager in this time full of challenges is to put aside his or her individual interests. Anyone who wants to achieve something now must think and act in consensus. In other words, egoists have no place at the moment. In the current situation, community needs to be at the forefront.
What does this mean in concrete terms for a manager?
The manager must know each individual in the team and know what drives them. You know this from yourself in a similar way: What’s fun is easier to do. You may not even notice if you have already spent more time than usual on something. One reason for this is that the brain is more productive, creative and efficient in a positive state. Employees then like to go the extra mile, which can be life-sustaining for a company under certain circumstances.
Isn’t it difficult to speak of a positive state when sales have slumped, the company is on short-time work or, in the worst case, its existence is threatened?
It is certainly a challenge to create and maintain a positive and confident climate when everything around you seems to be collapsing. But a manager who appreciates the work of each and every one of his or her employees, listens to them, takes their concerns seriously and provides support and room to maneuver will create a positive basic mood in the team. Everyone must be able to feel that they are making their individual contribution to the company’s success. Subsequently, the team also manages to achieve its goals together with the management.
Certainly, many of those responsible find it difficult to grant room to maneuver. How can this be achieved in particular by those managers who actually prefer to tightly hold the reins?
This is achieved through trust, which arises when managers invest in the relationship with their employees. This is a development process that Otto Scharmer describes very aptly in his „Theory U“ and says the following about it: „If you manage to take into account the inner origin of human action in leadership, cooperation and the implementation of projects, you can change relationships, systems and processes in the long term.“ This movement towards more humanity in leadership has been taking place for several years now, but it is currently experiencing a strong momentum that we should keep going. Managers must be aware of this.
So now we see who is really able to lead people through the crisis?
Right. Humanity in leadership can currently make all the difference in how the company is doing today and will perform in the future.
More information about Thomas Gelmi: www.thomasgelmi.com
Thomas Gelmi unterstützt weltweit Führungskräfte und deren Teams in Unternehmen unterschiedlichster Größe und verschiedenster Branchen. Dazu gehören global tätige Organisationen wie die WTO, Siemens, Roche, oder Credit Suisse, aber auch KMUs und Privatkunden. Sein Fokus liegt dabei auf der Entwicklung von Selbst- und Beziehungskompetenz in Führung, Zusammenarbeit und Kundenkontakt.
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Based in Switzerland and working globally, Thomas Gelmi has been supporting leaders and their teams in companies of all sizes, across cultures and in a wide range of industries. These include globally operating organizations such as the WTO, Siemens, Roche, and Credit Suisse, as well as SMEs and private clients. He focuses on the development of personal and interpersonal competence in leadership, teamwork, and customer contact. Born 1968, he now lives near Zurich.