AUGUST 2020
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

BUSINESS BUZZ

As a Leader of Others – You’re Responsible

By Dr. Karyn Anjali
Mathura-Arthur

The world is shifting before our eyes, and for many employees and us, this isn’t a welcome change. There are protests, the economy is getting worse, and Covid-19 is quickly spreading from person to person. The workspace has changed for almost everyone. Some are still going to work, but with modifications such as social distancing and wearing masks. Some are functioning from home with their kids underfoot. Still, others have lost their jobs and don’t know if it is temporary or not.

These alterations have created a sense of fear and anxiety which, when added to normal work stress, can take a toll and cause burnout and overwhelming emotional strain. It’s imperative to know how to deal with these feelings, but more important, how you help your team cope will reflect on your leadership in future.

Employees have so many things to worry about. They wonder if they will be exposed to the virus at work and spread it to family members. They don’t know how to provide for their families if they lose their job or are making less money. For some, it’s hard to imagine how things can ever get better.

At times like these, coping is hard. If someone doesn’t handle well, it can have a negative impact not only on their own well-being but also on those around. The first step for someone stressed or overwhelmed is to understand how they feel and know what symptoms to look for. Some concerning indicators include anger, increased nervousness, trouble sleeping and feeling hopeless. It is also vital to talk to someone about their frame of mind.

A good leader should gauge their own emotional well-being, along with the teams. They should pay attention to how their employees act, and what they say at work. Once they understand how their employees are feeling, they should respond with empathy. Perhaps, an employee needs a break or maybe they just want to vent. Managers should put themselves in the employees’ shoes. This can make a difference.

Letting employees talk openly about their concerns related to work can be a big help to foster an atmosphere of trust. Some employees just need reassurance that their jobs aren’t at risk. However, honesty is the key. A good leader would never tell an employee that their job is safe if they don’t really know. It’s perfectly acceptable to say something like, “I understand your concerns, but I’m not sure what will happen yet.” It’s important that you offer empathy, open communication and a listening ear.

Difficult times like this can stir up unpleasant and overwhelming feelings. What matters is how people deal with those moods. Managers can create a healthy environment where employees feel safe and cared for. Sometimes, employees just need a chance to share their thoughts to express concerns.

Creating a stress-quelling workplace doesn’t happen overnight. It requires time, dedication and commitment, but few factors are more important to your success as a leader. And most important, take good care of yourself.

On that note, I encourage you to pick up Satya Nadella’s book “Hit Refresh” or look at Sundar Pichai’s note to his team in the wake of the shooting at the YouTube headquarters – both are about people and leading with empathy. It is perhaps what makes these Indian Americans leaders the heads of global conglomerates such as Microsoft and Google. Compassion makes them great leaders.

Dr. Karyn Mathura-Arthur is an agile implementation leader with experience in Operational Excellence, Continuous Process Improvement, Business Transformation, Process Engineering and Organizational Change Management across multiple industries (banking, insurance, healthcare, telecom, government, retail, etc.). For comments and suggestions, email editor@khaasbaat.com
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