5 Leadership Interview Questions to Ask in a Post COVID-19 World
Since the global lock-down began, my mind has become restless and has gone into overdrive with all sorts of compelling questions popping into my head. Noting the calamitous responses by Western countries such as the US, UK, Spain and Italy in handling the pandemic, the theme of leadership has taken centre stage. Observing the leadership competency and style of respective countries across the world, the following traits are evident in countries such as South Korea and New Zealand who have managed to be on the front foot in the fight against COVID-19.
· Humility and Respect — they demonstrated a total commitment to the people of their country and led from the front to ensure trust and integrity
· Compassion — they understood that their people were worried about their health, their jobs and took appropriate action to reassure them
· Clear strategic direction — they took early action against the pandemic and listened to the scientific advice taking a multi-agency approach by engaging all parts of their public health infrastructure
· Secure communication — they spoke to their people with honesty and kept them up to date regularly informing them of what they wanted them to do to ensure their health and safety during the pandemic
In the absence of a vaccine against the disease, we are journeying into uncharted water of uncertainty. As most Western leaders continue to fumble their way through the pandemic and erode their trust and integrity, we need to start focusing on cultivating the leaders for a post-COVID-19 world. For companies, this is critically important as we will require a new type of leadership that is future-focused, and committed to energizing their employees.
The following infographic summarizes the shift that needs to take place between the leadership of the past and the future.
We need to ensure we have the right people in leadership positions that will take companies and their employees forward in this new world that will be driven by a level of disruption we will probably never see again for a very long time.
Below are five questions that interviewers must ask to understand the essence of a future leader.
How would you go about fostering a sense of community in your company or team?
What to look for: If they say they’ll create a family atmosphere, they have the wrong mindset. Your employees are not your children but fully formed adults. They should focus on how they will go about bringing people together and creating a special bond between the company and employees. If your staff are happy, your customers will be satisfied as well.
Do you think authenticity matters at work?
What to look for: Authenticity requires an enormous amount of transparency, so their core principles need to be robust in the first place. Consistency matters so they must ensure that they are excellent in the good times and in times of a crisis.
If you were offered this job, what would your reaction be?
What to look for: Their answer should reflect their true self. They should say that they are honoured to be given the role and the responsibility that accompanies the position. If they say, they will look forward to the challenge that’s not enough. As above, they have to own it in the good and bad times putting their people first.
How do you approach change management?
What to look for: Change is coming, and change will happen fast in the wake of COVID-19. Change is scary to people because it’s not guaranteed to be a success. They shouldn’t say to employees that ‘you need to embrace change’. They need to be transparent and honest in their communication — don’t withhold the truth from employees. They need to deliver their message in a step by step, bite-sized, easy to digest manner backed by a solid communications plan. They need to acknowledge the things that aren’t working and spelling out exactly how they’ll be fixed.
How do you ensure your employees don’t suffer burnout?
What to look for: With mental health a vital issue amid the pandemic, mental health is going to gain more traction than ever before. Leaders must understand the impact that positive mental health has at work. For this to prevail, a deep dive is required to understand the following — do people enjoy their roles, how is the organizational culture, and how is the relationship with their line managers? You need to identify the root causes of burn out. Employees need to feel connected to the work they do. If you have a purpose-driven and engaging culture, you’re on the right path.
The brave new world requires a new type of leader that truly understands the spirit of the organization and the people in them. It is so important that we recover trust and integrity in our organizations that have been displaced during the chaos of the pandemic. We need to start that process by selecting future-focused leaders.
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