The COVID-19 pandemic has been the most unprecedented disruption we have seen in our lifetime. Never has the world been so massively impacted by a single event, which started as a health crisis but snowballed into an economic crisis.
Every organisation has had to re-imagine, re-engineer, and re-haul their work, workplace, and workforce. Leaders had to focus on business continuity, while also being empathetic to workforce sentiments and their health and safety in these trying times. Their actions have evoked many emotions. Some have been applauded and appreciated. Some have been questioned on their response, especially related to employee well-being and business sustainability.
I believe unusual times like these require unusual wisdom. As VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) becomes the “new normal,” any such disruption in our way is an acid test for leadership, especially with the emergence of new business models, influx of a new-age workforce, changing customer expectations, and interconnected and boundless world of business and digital disruptions.
Having said this, you can clearly differentiate leaders from managers by their actions and reactions to crisis situations. Let us understand this through the CPE (curiosity, passion, and emotional) quotient.
Curiosity quotient (CQ)
“Curiosity killed the cat” is a proverb we all heard growing up. But in today's world, the thought has reversed completely. One needs to be curious, have hunger for knowledge, seek answers, and share wisdom.
The key to curiosity is to never stop asking questions. It is perhaps the most powerful tool one should use for individual growth.
Look at COVID-19 as an example. When the disaster hit, everyone seemed busy, frustrated, anxious, and apprehensive with the setback. However, the curious ones started to think deeper and tried to find answers about the why, what, and how. The high CQ individuals not only started thinking profoundly and rationally but, more importantly, suggested creative solutions to address the situation. A leader would engage such minds and encourage them to be curious, deliberate, and question the status quo.
Passion quotient (PQ)
Skills may be bought but passion is priceless. In my professional experience, I have always kept an eye open for passionate people who can be part of my team since these are the individuals who drive transformation. They have a unique drive to go beyond their call of duty.
As leaders, our focus should be to provide them with a platform to pursue their passion. For example, at BCCL (Times of India group), we created the Eureka portal, which enables employees to share their unique ideas to drive revenue, process efficiency, and encourage cost effectiveness. The multi-layered assessment framework provides an opportunity to employees to passionately present their innovative ideas to the cross-functional leadership committee, which shortlists them and ensures involvement of the concerned employees in implementation through action-learning projects. I am happy to share that many such ideas have led to impactful business outcomes.
My belief is connect people to their passion and watch as they achieve the unimaginable.
Emotional quotient (EQ)
Think of the time when you took your high school exams. Your state of mind could be described in four words: stressed, apprehensive, anxious, and worried. While your intelligence quotient (IQ) could help you answer the questions, it was your EQ that helped you manage your emotions. Your mental agility enables you to connect the dots and thereby come out victorious.
As a leader, you need to be aware of how you feel. This is especially true in a crisis situation. More importantly, how do you respond to it, because your EQ is the sine qua non of leadership.
You may be an effective manager, but displaying your CPE quotient in every behaviour and action makes you a great leader.