Date: 23/04/2020

HR Forum: leadership psychology in the time of Covid-19

AmCham’s HR Forum heard useful advice about how to adjust leadership models to the impact of Covid-19.

Mia Popić, psychotherapist, coaching psychologist, and head of the Sinergija Coaching Centre, began her presentation with a note on resilience and its impact on individual and corporate performance.

Resilience enables people, teams, and companies to work consistently in fast-paced environments and under conditions of uncertainty, and, as a character trait, strongly correlates with personal performance. Resilient people find it easier to cope with their duties in times of crisis and are more likely to come out stronger from adversity and hardship.

An organisation is only as resilient as the people who make it up, which is why leaders ought to apply best practices to strengthen individual resilience. ‘Fostering hands-on experience in gaining skills, encouragement, giving direct and well-intentioned feedback, and creating a psychologically safe organisational environment where all individuals feel secure, are key leadership practices that promote self-efficacy’, said Mia, particularly highlighting the importance of psychological safety.

In one recent study of employee psychological safety, 43.6 percent of all respondents did not feel able to share their emotions about the current crisis with their superiors, whilst 42.8 percent believed they did not receive enough support from the firm’s leaders. At this time, human resources units should focus on strengthening the resilience of leaders and staff and creating a workplace environment that is as safe as possible.

Mia also spoke about leadership in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that the crisis would change not only decision-making processes, but the very essence of doing business as well. A historic declaration signed on 19 August 2019 by more than 200 CEOs in the Business Roundtable affirmed that shareholder value should no longer be their companies’ main objective. Business should have meaning for all mankind and contribute to the welfare and security of the community and its economic, social, and environmental advancement. Today, as we witness businesses coming together in solidarity, Mia went on to say, it was certain that firms would in the future continue to contribute to their broader social communities. According to her, the crisis could be viewed as a catalyst of future corporate social responsibility.

Moreover, the crisis was expected to produce a complex environment that will test companies’ agility, Mia added. ‘In a complex business environment, challenges can be addressed only through gradual improvements, little by little, until solutions are found’, she went on to say, emphasising that ‘instead of only seeking to introduce agile processes, firms should hire people with agile thinking, where HR teams play the key role’. Human resources units greatly determine the agility of a business environment, Mia concluded.

The event was moderated by Nikola Milosavljević, Chairperson, and Ivana Karanović, Vice Chairperson, of AmCham’s HR Forum.