1 July 2020

Follow the leader: 5 things employees need from their CEO, right now

No matter your business or challenges at the moment, across the world, leaders are more under the spotlight than ever.

Organisations are all realising the same truth: being a strong leader right now isn’t just about building a strong recovery plan, it’s about building confidence and trust from your workforce, customers and society. Today, 54% of people in the UK believe it’s the CEO’s role to make sacrifices for their employees. There’s a lot at stake, and your actions now will define you as a leader for years to come.

So, in a time of crisis, what are people really looking for from their leaders?

  1. Recognition and support


Your people have come a very long way in a relatively short space of time, so don’t forget to recognise and thank them for stepping up and adapting to these new ways of working. Spotlight both individuals and teams, make sure you’re seeing and talking about the great work they’re doing – and don’t forget to thank them for continuing to adapt.


  1. Authenticity, transparency and visibility


Being human is so important right now. We’ve all seen that infamous video of the CEO who turned herself into a potato on Microsoft Teams and couldn’t change back for the rest of day. Although it’s easy to get lost in the facts, figures and worrying reality of trying to keep a business afloat, remember: your people need to see the human side of leadership, too. The best television or radio presenters are the ones who are authentic and we can relate to, so inject your personality into what you’re communicating. 


  1. Consistent, regular communications


Whatever’s happening in the world at the moment, we know we’ll get a daily government briefing on the current facts and figures. It’s become a part of life, we’ve gotten used to it and now we’ve come to expect it.  Whether you’ve got important information to share or not, it’s important to be consistent. Even if it’s just a friendly hello to remind people you’re around and that you’re there for them.


  1. Openness and transparency

The truth is, you’re not always going to have good news. We’re in crisis mode, and many businesses are having to make difficult decisions they never thought they’d have to. But it’s not just about what you’re communicating – it’s how you’re saying it, too. Take the open letter published by Brian Chesky, CEO at Airbnb, delivering the news of mass redundancies. His letter was honest and from the heart, and it received praise from brands and employees alike.


  1. Freedom and autonomy

They say great leaders don’t tell you how it’s done, they show you. One of the most prevalent themes we’re seeing in colleague feedback is that they like the freedom and autonomy that working from home – or in some cases, at a distance from others – brings. Managers aren’t just people managers, they are coaches and counsellors, and they need to balance the needs of the business with the needs of their people. Today, strong leadership isn’t just about giving your people everything they need to succeed, but also the space and support to flourish.


Use this time wisely

As we transition into the next normal, employees will be looking to leaders and managers for direction, empathy and hope. So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to get your house in order. Think about how you can retain your authenticity while forming a clear, strategic direction. Are your leaders connected and aligned? And if not, do you need to upskill and better support your managers? There’s a lot to consider, and leaders should be using this opportunity to lead by example and inspire others to do the same.

We can help you raise your leadership comms game and refine your channel strategies. And if you’re looking to empower your leaders, we’ve got tried and tested manager toolkits, ready to go.

Get in touch via nicky@mccannsynergy.com to find out how we can help you get in shape for the future.

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