As we step into the year 2023, corporate leaders are faced with an ongoing challenge of a rapidly changing business environment. For a few of my clients, I am seeing them face a very pressing and unfortunate issue - navigating the challenge of layoffs. This has created a sense of uncertainty and fear among employees and highlighted the importance for them to navigate - purposefully,  transparently, and with care and compassion.

The Heart of the Leader

Recently, I observed one of my executive clients communicate a very difficult message to his team that 50 jobs would be eliminated. Each one of the employees in the room was directly impacted. He delivered the news clearly yet compassionately as he explained the circumstances, acknowledged the impact of the decision, and offered space & uncomfortable silence for the individuals sitting in front of him to process the news best.

He put himself in the shoes of his employees - many tenured and committed for years to the organization - and took a heart-centered approach to share the difficult news. In navigating the challenge of layoffs, he met his employees in a place of empathy, went off script a little where necessary, and did his best to hold the space they needed to receive the news. He showed up as an intentional leader during a difficult time, and his actions served as an excellent example for other executives to follow.

In my book, Lead with Heart & Leave a Legacy, I talk about my own experience as a corporate executive faced with communicating a layoff. The lack of progress against the company strategy led to a top-down decision to execute a reduction in the workforce across the organization.  

It was a heartbreaking day, but my team needed a sincere, transparent, vulnerable leader.  The experience taught me the importance of leading with care and compassion during difficult times and proved to be the best approach in minimizing impact on the people. 

Three Ways Intentional Leaders Can Minimize the Impact of Layoffs on Employees

When navigating the challenge of layoffs, intentional leaders prioritize taking steps to minimize the impact on their employees. They do this by adopting a heart-led approach that focuses on transparency, compassion, and being connected.

Here are three things that intentional leaders do when navigating the challenge of layoffs:

  1. Communicate with Transparency
    When communicating with employees, leaders who want to navigate layoffs effectively must be transparent and honest. It is essential to clearly explain the reasons behind the layoffs and what steps the organization is taking to help affected employees. This can help alleviate some of the anxiety and uncertainty often accompanying layoffs.
  2. Show Deep Care & Concern
    It is important for leaders to show empathy and compassion towards their employees during these difficult times. This means taking the time to listen to employees, acknowledging their emotions, and showing genuine concern for their well-being. Leaders can demonstrate this by providing support and resources to employees during and after the layoffs.
  3. Pay Attention to Remaining Workers' Concerns
    After a layoff, the remaining employees may feel overwhelmed, anxious, and uncertain about their own future with the organization. It's important for leaders to pay attention to their concerns and make personal connections to understand how they are really doing. Leaders can organize one-on-one meetings, hold group discussions, and encourage open communication channels to create a space where employees can express their feelings, ask questions, and share their thoughts. This approach can also help identify potential issues and areas for improvement within the organization.

The Power of Intentional Leadership

For my executive client, how he chose to communicate the devastating news influenced how those individuals reacted and accelerated their ability to process through the change. While life-changing, they felt supported and mirrored their leader's calm sense of commitment.

The year 2023 will continue to present many challenges for corporate leaders, including the ongoing issue of layoffs. By communicating transparently, showing care and compassion, and being mindful of the concerns of their remaining employees, corporate leaders can navigate the challenge of layoffs while minimizing employee impact and fostering a culture that will thrive in the years to come.

If you are a corporate leader looking to develop intentional leadership skills in your organization and cultivate a culture of care and compassion even in the most challenging of times, I invite you to work with me

Is employee engagement a priority for your organization?

If it’s not, it should be. 82% of employees want their company to see them as a person, not just an employee (Gartner (2022)). 

Being seen as a person looks like:

To meet the rising demand for more “people-centered” workplaces, leaders must lead differently. 

Which type of leader are you?

In my work, I see two types of leaders:

  1. The transactional leader
  2. The intentional leader

Transaction leaders prioritize results, metrics, and outcomes. Intentional leaders prioritize people – while still meeting key targets and performance expectations.

Given what we know employees expect and prioritize, intentional leadership is more imperative than ever. 

Top performers want to work for someone who is focused on cultivating personal connections, digging into what inspires each individual contributor, and creating personalized motivational strategies. 

How can a leader become more intentional?

It’s easy to tell leaders to show up differently and lean into the proven practices of intentional leadership – but it’s a bit harder in practice.

Change fatigue and work friction, increased by remote and hybrid work, leave most leaders feeling unprepared, unsupported, and uncertain about how to be an effective leader.

Enter: Executive coaching.

This is the most effective way to equip today’s leaders to make behavioral changes and perspective shifts to become an effective, intentional leader.

Executive coaching is effective. It’s also one of the top resources and professional development tools requested by leaders themselves

48% of global leaders want to learn from external coaching (DDI 2022).

4 ways to build intentional leadership through executive coaching

Executive coaching has many benefits for leaders – both professionally and personally. Of those benefits, these are the 5 most important ways executive coaching can impact your leaders:

1. Create Space
An executive coaching engagement can provide the forum and breathing room that allows the leader to get off the hamster wheel for a moment and refocus/reconnect to their role as a leader. This space creates room to feel effective and connected to their purpose again.                                     

When leaders are given the gift of time/space to focus their own leadership, they feel seen, acknowledged, and understood. This leads to feeling inspired and supported, so they can show up and create value for their team and organization.

2. Expand Possibility
A skilled executive coach will guide your leaders to their highest potential. Coaches use their skills, like active listening and building trust, to create a connection with each leader. This personal connection and belief gives the leader a conduit to see their own strengths and potential.

3. Increase Self Awareness 
Leaders need to be more aware of their role. Without increased self-awareness, leaders, like all of us, will blindly continue doing things the same way as usual. The trouble with self-awareness is that it’s challenging to develop on your own. 

An executive coach will guide leaders to examine their behavior, reflect on their decisions, and facilitate a powerful experience that allows the leader to become more aware of their values, emotions, and habits – and how they impact the people they lead.

Coaches help people see themselves more clearly and more compassionately. Executive coaching is the best way for a leader to understand their strengths and weaknesses, learning how to see different perspectives and accounting for their own actions as they are mirrored back. 

4. Challenge Beliefs and Support Shifts

Like with self-awareness, it’s almost impossible to challenge long-held beliefs or shift your perspective on your own. Executive coaching gives leaders the power to examine the things they believe and the perspectives they hold to determine how these things affect their team and overall organization. Leaders who feel empowered to reconsider their beliefs and make important shifts are then able to re-engage with their team, recommit to their values and goals, and reignite their impact.

Leaders who participate in executive coaching feel more aligned to their priorities and are better at helping their team members feel aligned to their projects and responsibilities. An aligned leader is an inspired, effective leader.

Using executive coaching in your organization

The engagement, morale, retention, and overall well being of a company won’t change if leaders don’t start doing something different.

The benefits of effective executive coaching include improved emotional intelligence, better ego control, and an enhanced perspective. Is this the “different” you’re looking for?

If you’re ready to develop more effective, intentional leaders – click here to learn more about executive coaching and how our team of coaches can benefit your organization.

Tricia Manning © 2024 All Rights Reserved.
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