Three lessons learned from State of Matter's leaders podcast

17 August 2020 Consultancy.com.au

In June, State of Matter launched an own podcast series. In ‘Who Looks After The Leaders?’ the hosts interviews inspiring leaders from a wide range of Australian organisations and industries to find out how they have been managing their teams during the Covid-19 crisis.

Looking back at the first seven episodes, Leigh Parsons, the Managing Director of the Victoria-based management consulting firm, reflects on what he believes are the three main learnings so far: 

The importance of self-awareness

One of the major themes that came up again and again was the importance of recognising where you’re at and how you’re feeling in the moment. Everyone has good days and bad days but what sets great leaders apart is their ability to recognise their own energy levels and adapt accordingly. 

In the first few weeks of the lockdown period, many leaders threw themselves into working remotely. But with Zoom calls for 8 hours a day, every day, everyone will find themselves hitting a wall eventually. Leaders should encourage their team to take regular breaks, to get outside and take a walk whenever possible. Obviously, the same applies to leaders – you can’t take care of your team and your clients unless you also take care of yourself. 

The challenges of working remotely

Everyone has adapted differently to remote working but one thing that has stood out for the participants of the podcast is how the lack of social connection can harm teams. Effie Gorringe touched upon how she encourages her team not to turn their camera and mic off during meetings. It’s actually nice to see people’s homes, with family and pets wandering in and out.

At State of Matter, our leadership team has made the effort to really recognise each other’s energy levels and know when someone needs some extra support. Like many other organisations, we’ve introduced things like virtual Friday night drinks to keep everyone connected. You cannot underestimate how important these social connections are to the wellbeing and productivity of everyone in the team. 

Creativity and problem-solving

There is a huge amount of creativity and entrepreneurship that is required when dealing with crisis. Leaders like Ian Wall at Worley are already well-versed in building resilient teams and adapting to difficult situations all over the world. At the end of the day, it’s about building teams that you trust to make good decisions without you. Does your team feel empowered to speak up and take action? Or are there roadblocks in place that prevent fast decision making? 

Organisations like Worley, that have adapted to the current situation most successfully, are the ones that already had processes in place to allow them to deal with rapid change and upheaval.

Among the leaders that were interviewed for ‘Who Looks After The Leaders?’ were Deanna Lomas, Chief Integrated Supply Officer at NHP Electrical Engineering Products; Shaun O'Brien, National Manager of Risk Partners at IAG; Sue Bingham, Executive Coach; Effie Gorringe, Director of Operations at L'Oréal; Dirk Dobbs Strategy, Implementation and Change Executive at Hesta; and Ian Wall, Global Security & Resilience Director at Worley.


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