Now is a Time for Leaders

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Inspiring leaders…inspire reflection, discovery, courage and humility though emotional intelligence

The coronavirus’s impact on society, the economy and people’s lives has been monumental. Families locked in, schools and businesses shut, careers on hold, borders closed and neighbours debating the right way to wear masks and physically distance.

But Covid-19 also has revealed silver linings. It has been the catalyst for solving problems. According to Steven Hoffman, law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Health at York University, “It has provided an opportunity to build back more equitably and sustainably for the future.”

In fact, there are many reasons to be optimistic. The virus has exposed fault lines in both the economy and society. Without minimizing its miseries, the pandemic is also creating opportunities for individuals and organizations to change.

Leadership matters, and this is an incredible time to prove it. We’re all dealing with very profound concepts now. We’re questioning our identity and mortality, and we’re asking ourselves, “What is productive work?” This is a time when true leaders are stepping up and helping their people and organizations find more humanity and meaning in their work and more joy in their lives. It’s an age of reckoning and a time for innovation.

Innovation comes in many forms, notes Hala Beisha (MBA ’13), a Schulich grad, strategist and futurist. “When you have declining margins, and layoffs like we’ve been seeing, you have to try something new – possibly something that sounded crazy before. I’m seeing companies becoming more open to experimenting with new ideas: new products, new value propositions and new ways for teams to work together.”

Indeed, the very act of looking for new niches will strengthen any business. Successful innovation processes bring employees together, create strong relationships with customers and suppliers, and improve companies’ analytical capacities and speed to market. Plus, mastering these disciplines will make companies and leaders stronger.

Inspiring leaders take the time to understand what motivates and satisfies them and individual team members. They inspire reflection, discovery, courage and humility though emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence refers to a set of emotional and social skills and competencies that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use the information in emotions in effective and meaningful ways.

And that is where it all comes together. Optimism, innovation and empathy are all related – essential tools for surviving the pandemic. Tuning in to self and other’s emotions and needs, communicating and collaborating authentically, creating a culture of forgiveness and respect and good things can happen. Despite its trials, the pandemic is creating opportunities for advancement and good.

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Adapted from “Damage Control”, published in the Fall 2020 issue of The York University Magazine, and submitted by Deborah Jann, facilitator in SEEC’s Maximizing Leadership Impact with Emotional Intelligence program (starting June 14, 2021). For more information and to register, visit the program web page.

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