lhh logo

Restoring Leadership’s Luster: Increasing the appeal of a leadership career path.

Restoring Leadership’s Luster: Increasing the appeal of a leadership career path.


Let us help you turn
your workforce into a
true force

Contact us

Has leadership lost its luster?   If you pause to think about the last two years alone, you begin to see the burden that has been placed on employees, managers, and their leaders.   Business leaders were among the last to leave the office and work from home, and certainly among the first to return to the office. Meanwhile, leaders have been asked to develop a new array of skills to manage remote workforces. Oh, and they are mandated to do it all with an emotionally intelligent, empathetic, and compassionate approach.   It’s no surprise, then, that Global Workforce of the Futurea survey done by LHH and The Adecco Group, has found evidence that the leadership track may no longer be held in high esteem by talent looking to advance their careers.   Survey respondents were asked to select the elements that, in their estimation, would describe “a successful working life.” At the top of the list was work-life balance (39%), being generally happy at work (32%), having job security (30%) and having some measure of control over where and when they work (30%).   Well down the list, only eight percent of respondents identified “being part of a leadership team” as a net contributor to a successful working life, and just nine per cent identified “having a positive influence on others’ careers.”   This cynicism about joining the leadership track seems to be most pronounced among younger workers: only eight percent of both Gen Z and Millennial workers showed any interest in ultimately becoming part of upper management.   Why do so few workers see a future for themselves in leadership? A lack of support to systemic, structural issues – seem to be playing a role.  

Are we less interested in leading because there are fewer leadership opportunities?

 Over the past several decades, there has been a movement in business to reduce or even eliminate middle management jobs to “flatten” an organization’s structure and promote more agile, cooperative decision making. Although the total elimination of middle management is not widely practiced, many organizations have reduced the number of leaders on this rung of the hierarchy for a variety of reasons, many of them related to flattening wage costs.   From a non-leader’s perspective, however, the decline of middle management opportunities could be viewed in a number of ways, most of them negative. Fewer opportunities mean fiercer competition for those middle management roles that are still available. That alone may turn off some top talent from even applying. We know from research that women are less likely to apply to roles that don’t match 100% of their skills or experience, whereas men tend to feel comfortable applying if they hit 50% of the job requirements.  

Leadership responsibilities are expanding while support is in a steady decline.

 It was not so long ago that leadership development was approached as a significant moment in the careers of leaders. Programs were robust and engaging, and could last from 12 to 18 months. Today, however, the frequency and duration of leadership development has declined as companies look for ways to trim talent management costs.   What was once an intensive opportunity to prepare leaders for the future has become a much more perfunctory approach. Year-long programs have been reduced to week or half day intensives. And ongoing leadership support – like coaching – continues to be rationed out for only the most senior leaders.   At the same time, the responsibilities of leaders have only grown. In addition to managing teams, meeting KPIs, and exceeding customer and stakeholder demands, leaders are increasingly being asked to guide the careers of the people they lead. All while having conversations about their physical and mental well-being to anticipate and prevent burn out and flight risks. The LHH/TAG survey has shown consistently that leaders do not feel they are properly prepared to take on all these new responsibilities. The complexities of the outer world are outpacing many leaders capacity to adapt and expand to the modern challenges of today’s business environment.  

Restoring leadership’s luster: a checklist

 For organizations that are worried about populating the leadership pipeline, it can be a daunting task to develop a strategy to attract top talent. But it can be done.  
  1. Make sure you’re investing enough in the right type of leadership development to produce results. Few organizations would deny that good leaders make for good results. On that basis alone, organizations need to look carefully at what and how they are investing in leadership development and ask themselves some tough questions. Top of that list: is this really the right amount, and the right approach, and for the right talent, to instill new skills and mindsets in our leaders? You need to make leadership development robust enough that potential leaders see it as a viable path to learning and developing their careers. 
  2. Remember that initial training is not enough. Organizations with strong leadership cultures make investments in programs to monitor their leaders progress after the initial learning opportunities. One of the best ways of doing that is coaching and mentoring, which not only supports the individual but also creates opportunities to ensure leaders are putting into practice what they have learned. 
  3. Task your best leaders to identify and mentor future leaders. A formal mentorship program can produce multiple benefits, including the cultivation of a new generation of leaders. Through the mentoring relationship, top talent can gain valuable insight into the reality of a career in leadership. Make mentorship a core responsibility of your existing leaders, and an obligation for top talent as part of their overall career development journey. 
  4. Be prepared to “sell” your best and brightest on a career in leadership. In the past, few companies had to sell their high potentials on a career in leadership. Most of us know that leadership translates into higher pay, better offices and perks. However, with leadership losing some of its luster as a career path, organizations may need to make deliberate efforts to promote these opportunities. That may rub some organizations the wrong way, particularly those who think that selling someone on a leadership career is counter-intuitive. However, there is no getting around the fact that fewer people aspire to lead. Organizations will have to demonstrate the individual benefits to their high potentials if they want to re-stock their leadership pipeline.
 As career priorities evolve, so too must the internal initiatives to recruit and develop leaders. We’re in an age now where the trappings of a leadership career are no longer enough, on their own, to prompt people to seek leadership roles.   How will your organization advance its leadership capabilities and stock its pipeline?  
Assessments & Analytics

The Importance of Identifying Leadership Potential

Growing your future leaders takes more than people skills – it demands rigorous and frequent assessment to inform development.

Imagine you employ a team supervisor. She’s great at her job and very reliable. But after two years, she tells you she’s moving on.

“Oh no – where to?” you ask, thinking of how hard it will be to replace her.

“I’ve picked up a job in a law firm,” she says. “I’m finally going to be able to use my degree.”

“What degree?” you ask.

“My MBA degree,” she says. “I’ve been studying part-time. I graduated three months ago.”

Too late you think about the P&L Leadership role you’ve been straining to fill at your own workplace. Too late by three months? No. By two years. If you can’t spot an ambitious self-starter, you’ve taken your eye off your business horizon.

Assessing workers isn’t merely a box-ticking exercise – it’s a crucial tool for identifying future leaders. The tasks they are currently employed to do may not reflect their longer-term capabilities or hint at their unspoken ambitions.

Future-proofing the company staff structure comes in three parts – clarification, calibration, and cultivation.

Clarify what the company needs
Calibrate what is in the talent pool
Cultivate that talent to grow strong leaders

Relying on managers to organically uncover untapped potential is haphazard, inefficient, and not entirely fair. Managers are often hard-pressed and not necessarily equipped to bear the future needs of the company in mind. They may not have access to data outlining any skills gaps looming in the mid-term or long-term future.

Regular assessment – particularly for identifying leadership potential – requires a thorough, systematic, and repeatable approach, for three good reasons:

1. Discovering hidden talent

Your workforce is made up of people with many and varied facets and not everything they can offer will have found its way onto their CV when they first arrived for the interview. Even a rigorous recruitment process can miss buried treasure – and longstanding employees may have been quietly garnering a whole chest full of additional skillset loot. Without regular assessment, this may not be something they share with you.

In short, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And worse, another employer will. At the end of February 2023, the ONS reported more than 1.1 million unfilled vacancies in the UK. There are a lot of recruiters out to tempt talent away.

2. Sorting the managers from the non-managers

Assessing employees for what they can offer now, where the skills gaps are, and what training they need in order to offer more across the next decade, can help to future-proof the leadership supply chain.

This should be endemic to the company’s processes, informing its long-term strategy and sustainability, but for leadership roles it will carry additional nuance. Many excellent employees are not natural managers and pushing them into a management role risks pushing them out altogether.

In a 2022 survey by Ivanti, 71% of office workers from Europe and the US said they would turn down a promotion in favor of more flexibility. The next step up is not the holy grail for everyone, so identifying who will be happier where they are is important too.

However, for most employees, career progression is important. In LHH’s 2022 Global Workforce of the Future report, 44% said without it they would be looking to move on. Frequent assessment is a pulse-check which gives a firm the best chance to retain all its staff and move its future leaders into bespoke development programs.

3. Discovering the Future Leaders

Leaders eventually hang up their hats – maybe sooner than expected.

High potentials are, by their nature, ambitious – and a flight risk if not offered a rewarding career path and the investment that goes with it. At a time when the talent pipeline is dripping, not gushing, retaining the C-suite line up of the future becomes even more critical.

Assessment data contains a wealth of richness. What should follow is a well-designed Leadership Development Program, tailored to fit each individual’s needs and maximizing the insights to strengthen an emerging leader’s capability in the areas they need most.

Talent development depends on talent assessment – and a sound leadership assessment process will enable you to make confident, evidence-based decisions as you plan for the years and decades ahead.

As a rule of thumb, never assume a supervisor isn’t considering the board room.

Change Management Workforce Transformations

How adopting new habits and behaviours over time is key to building effective teams

Employee Expectations Are Changing: Here’s Where Employers Need to Focus



Let us help you turn
your workforce into a
true force

Contact us

High-performing teams identify the habits and behaviours that enable them to deliver on their purpose and work continuously to adopt and embed them.  

A team’s contract makes clear the habits and behaviours that are acceptable within the team’s framework, and how they enhance performance.  

With the contract in place, research shows the importance of allowing time for teams to adopt and embed new habits and behaviours, as doing so creates a sustainable high-performance culture where members are unafraid to fail or learn new habits and behaviours.  

Why time is important to adopt and embed new habits and behaviours 

A team needs space to focus on the habits and behaviours that will drive performance, and time to adopt them in the day-to-day flow of work. It should be clear why a new habit or behaviour is being introduced and what impact it should have on the team’s performance. Giving teams time to design new habits and behaviours to achieve their purpose sets the team up to reach and sustain high performance.  

We know it takes time for habits to become second nature. Having time to apply, practice and embed a new habit or behaviour maximises the chance it will stick. If every member can apply new habits and behaviours to their work more slowly until they become embedded, this strengthens a team’s collective sense of belonging and purpose and supports sustained high performance.  

Team coaching can help teams observe, reflect on and modify how they operate through their habits to achieve performance goals. 

The value of a safe space in learning and adopting new habits  

Teams develop a common language as they collectively adopt the habits and behaviours necessary to navigate processes and achieve shared goals. This improves communication and collaboration. It also creates a climate of safety and makes teams more amenable to learning and adopting further habits, which in turn builds agility – an essential quality in high-performing teams. 

In such a climate, failure is more likely viewed as an opportunity to learn and adapt how the team functions and how they perform against their goals. The more agile a team, the easier it will be to adapt and engineer better results in the future.  

In a safe space, teams will be more prepared to look back at past success and failure and learn from both. This learning motivates a team to be open to exploring new ways to operate and focus on habits that optimise the team’s impact on the organisation. This can be especially useful during periods of high workload or when the team is not delivering to the standard expected. The safe space encourages learning and changing ways of working. 

High-performing teams are those that empower every team member to feel safe outside their natural comfort zone. And it all starts with team leaders. Does the climate support psychological safety and empower teams? If it does not, leadership assessment and development programmes can guide leaders in how to shape a safe space that unlocks team potential and performance.  

Team Effectiveness solution

LHH’s Team Effectiveness solution is a tailored solution to help employers build more cohesive teams, with employees feeling part of a group and working towards shared goals. 

Through a series of individual and group interventions, this programme will act on the priorities of the team, creating a framework to adopt new team habits over a period of time, that will enhance their overall performance on their journey to greater team success.


Coaching People Development

Unlimited coaching


Unlimited Coaching

Suitable for all levels of Executives, Leaders, Managers and High Potentials

Includes assessments and resources that support growth and development.

What is Unlimited Coaching?

Unlimited coaching means coachees have as many 1:1 coaching sessions with their coach during a defined period (ex: 3, 6, 9, or 12 months). After that period, the unlimited program ends. If the coachee desires more coaching, extensions can be purchased.

Executive leaders need a different coaching approach

Executive leaders are facing some of the toughest challenges in business that can have long lasting effects on the overall business performance. We need to create the safe space for executive leaders to have transparent conversations about challenges, hard decisions, and pivotal moments with a trusted coach/advisor with access whenever and wherever they want it.

Executive leaders are…

Faced with difficult challenges that have lasting business impact

Uniquely responsible for change, innovation and transformation

Often transitioned into the C-Suite amidst chaos and expected to quickly deliver results

Coaching should be…

A safe space to have transparent conversations with a trusted advisor about hard decisions and pivotal moments

An innovative and transformational coaching experience with a coach who has walked in their shoes

Always accessible, whenever and wherever needed

Coaching isn’t just a product

It’s a true transformational experience through a deeply human connection that propels the success of the executive and the business. 

Benefits of unlimited programs for the business

  • Increased Value for money: Clients are investing in the length of program which means coachees will have as much access to their coach as needed to maximize their coaching engagement
  • Easier to manage and report on because it is time bound and customers/coachees won’t have to also track the progress over months and years beyond the original timing of the engagement
  • Easier for the customer to sell it internally: HR Directors at customer will appreciate the argument which help them selling coaching services internally.

We recognize that EXECUTIVES are different. You are responsible for transformation and are facing difficult decisions every day. Whether you are taking your leadership team or organization to the next level, leading a large transformation initiative, or accelerating performance, we have an experienced team of former executives who now are certified coaches to support the results you are looking to achieve.

Benefits of unlimited programs for the coachee

  • More availability of the coach: Having access to the coach on a more readily basis may increase comfort and allow the coachee to not feel constrained by the limited number of hours.
  • Flexibility & focus: no restrictions on number of sessions with the coach means coachee can work through a focus area when they need to as often as they need. This can also mean really going deep into a topic if required. Coachee gets as much coaching as they need to meet development goals.
  • Management Support: unlimited access to a coach is a reflection of the commitment of the manager and business to the success of the coachee. As a result, the coachee will feel more supported and set up for success
  • Personal Achievement: by having access to unlimited coaching, the coachee has the opportunity to check-in more frequently, practice  in real time and can see immediate results, 
  • Easy access to coaching: unlimited coaching gives a further  level of “democratization” and easy access to coaching services. 

Get in touch with us


+84 (0) 28 5412 3401

+84 (0) 28 5412 3932

or Download the whitepaper for FREE now

Please complete the form below, our experts will reach out to you shortly.

[captainform id=”1333700″]

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility

Cash or Career Transition?

LHH Vietnam’s Career Transition and Outplacement

Cash or Career Transition?

This could be one of the most important decisions your organization makes over the next couples of months

Let’s face it, it’s going to be a tough year for many companies. Last year, a mix of resilience and government support programs helped a lot of employers stay afloat and in the process, kept many individuals on the payroll who might otherwise have been laid off.

Although it’s not clear when those supports will disappear, it looks more and more likely that even with COVID-19 vaccines being administered, new outbreaks and new variants of the virus will take a toll on the global economy and push employers ever close to reducing headcounts.

Those conditions will bring many organizations to the precipice of the question posed above: if your organization has to manage a downsizing, will you give them the opportunity to work with a career transition firm or offer them a cash payment and let them face joblessness on their own?

We’re not talking about severance, which exists in addition to career transition support for many individuals in transition. This is a scenario where an employer offers a choice between career transition support or a cash payment instead of CT. In some instances, employers have stopped offering career transition and go straight to an additional cash payment, which means employees never get to find out the benefits of working with a CT firm.

Both options are the hallmarks of caring organizations that want to give their people the best possible chances of finding another job. But increasingly, we’re seeing that the two options are simply not created equal.

If your organization is weighing these two options, here are some important things you should know before making a final decision.

Career transition is a GPS for displaced individuals

Career transition has always served as a trusted partner to help displaced individuals navigate the sometimes opaque paths to new and better jobs. That has never been truer than now. With so many people displaced by the pandemic and so many companies in flux, it is harder than ever to find the best job openings and develop the strategies to land them. Like a GPS, career transition can help your displaced individuals plot the quickest route from their old job to a new and possibly better job.

Finding a new job is a skill unto itself

 Although some people are naturals when it comes to searching for a new job, for others, it is a strange and awkward experience. Some of the people being displaced right now may not have had to apply for a job in years. Career transition not only supports the development of basic job-search skills, but it is also a master class in strategies to help displaced individuals cut through the clutter of online job boards and get to the front of the line for the best available jobs. Finding a new job today is a huge task; a proactive career transition firm can help individuals connect to job openings, many of which never make it to the online job boards. In this very difficult and complex job market, CT is the right tool for the job.

Speed is of the essence – Career transition is the quickest path to a new job

It has long been known in the career transition industry that the longer someone is out of work, the harder it gets to find that next new and better job. Career transition consistently helps its candidates get jobs faster – up to 65 percent faster than those who try to find a new job on their own.

Career transition is a gateway to a broad range of career development strategies

There was a time when Career transition was focused on learning resumé writing and interviewing techniques. Now, however, that simple and traditional approach is gone. Career transition is now shorthand for reskilling, upskilling, and redeployment opportunities. Laid-off individuals are given an opportunity to re-imagine their careers, and career transition helps them identify the best strategies to realize their career dreams.

Cash does not protect the employer brand as much as career transition

One of the reasons why an employer offers support to displaced individuals is to protect their brand as a top employer. If you treat your people badly in a downsizing, it can prompt top talent to leave your organization and may make it harder to recruit top talent in the future. Research shows that best-in-class companies are 2.5 times more likely to use career transition. They know the warm feeling that comes with a cash payment fades quickly once displaced individuals realize the job of finding their next job is much bigger and more complex than first thought.

The lure of the cash payment will no doubt endure, particularly in a labour market where so many organizations are under pressure to cut costs and reduce headcounts. But if the goal of a cash payment is to truly help a displaced worker land on their feet at a job that is as good or better than the one they just lost, then the choice is pretty clear.

Career transition is a win-win for both organization and individual. And right now, as we continue to chart an uncertain path into the future, everyone could use a little win-win.

Why do organizations choose LHH’s Career Transition solutions?

Scope: we support client’s through downsizing, voluntary or forced redundancies, restructuring, layoffs, and reduction in force.

Cost-saving innovation: we offer affordable & competitive packages for all client budgets.

Flexible & customizable solutions: We customize solutions suitable for clients varying needs. We offer job-search, entrepreneurial and retirement road-maps.

Find better jobs faster: 758 people in Vietnam embarked on amazing new career adventures in the last 6 months with our help. 82% of them negotiate equal or better positions.

Contact us now to learn more about Career Transition or speak to our experts.

Coaching People Development

Why Executive Coaching is Key for Your Organization’s Success


Why Executive Coaching is Key for Your Organization’s Success

Reports are now finding when you invest in high-quality Executive Coaching for your leadership, you get a company that has:

  • Higher performance
  • More productivity
  • Greater retention
  • More committed employees, and
  • a deeper leadership pipeline

Schedule a talk with our Executive Coaching experts now!

Executive coaching is fundamental if you want your organization to be successful.

Vas Narasimhan, CEO, Novartis

Many senior leaders believe that once they have entered the rarified air of the C-suite, there is nothing left to learn. Or, that having scaled the leadership hierarchy, they have already learned more than most people have forgotten.

So, why continue learning?

There is also the fact that senior leaders are almost always sought out as teachers and mentors. As a result, many possess an unshakable belief they must appear invulnerable to the stresses that burden leaders at lower levels of the organization.

Part of this is due, no doubt, to the fact that executive coaching is sometimes employed as a remedial tool provided for struggling leaders.

There are a lot of strong arguments for why executive coaching is a must-have for all senior leaders. But here are three that should make even the most traditional of executives think twice about rejecting an offer of coaching.

Elite-level athletes rely heavily on coaches.

To ensure that they are performing at the highest level, all the time, top-level professional and amateur athletes require effective coaching. No team would take the court/rink/field without working intently with coaches on preparation and execution. Some sports have coaches for specific skills like the goalie coach in hockey, and the quarterback coach in football. Even those athletes in individual sports like golf and travel with their coaches wherever they go. It all makes you wonder – if elite athletes cannot live without a coach, how can executive business leaders?

Coaching is the best way for long-time leaders to acquire the soft leadership skills that are so in demand today.

Even if you haven’t noticed, the definition of “good leadership” has changed quite a bit in recent years. Organizations are looking for leaders that can not only produce results, but also exhibit a full grasp of Emotional Intelligence, and so-called soft skills like vulnerability, self-awareness and empathy. Not all leaders, particularly ones that have been in leadership for a long time, naturally exhibit those skills. Coaching is one of the best ways for experienced leaders to find their “softer” sides.

If you’re not working with an executive coach, you can bet the CEO at your competitors are.

Even with disruption from the pandemic, a recent study by the International Coaching Federation estimated that the revenue generated by the global coaching industry was $2.9 billion, up 21 percent from a similar study done in 2015. The study also estimated that there are now 71,000 certified coach practitioners operating around the world – an increase of 33 percent since 2015. That is pretty strong proof that coaching has become a leadership solution of choice for growth-minded organizations. So, look around your organization; if your executive leaders aren’t working with coaches, they’re falling behind. The reflections of leaders like Narasimhan, Schmidt and Bill Gates are instructive on a number of different levels. Mostly, however, it reminds us that leaders have to change, they have to grow, and that change and growth are easier and faster with a coach. “Becoming a leader is a lifelong journey,” Narasimhan wrote in a LinkedIn commentary. “It requires the courage to self-discover – and the courage to change.”

Get in touch with us

+84 (0) 28 5412 3401


Download the whitepaper for FREE now

[captainform id=”1333700″]


Accelerating Your High Potentials

Accelerating Your High Potentials

Let us help you turn
your workforce into a
true force

Contact us

Focusing Your High Potentials

A common theme that I have heard from international companies in Vietnam is where to focus effort in preparing ‘High Potentials’ (HiPo’s) for a newly promoted role. As an Executive Coach, I have supported these HiPo leaders over the past years, and I have seen three common focus areas emerge.

Re-Balancing Operational vs Strategic Focus

As we are promoted through successive roles during our careers, there is a shift in balance between being operationally and strategically focused. As a junior employee, 100% of our time is focused on operational-execution tasks; and through successive promotions of middle, senior and C-suite roles we see an ever-increasing focus to being more strategic, long-term, big-picture focus.

I have found that very few HiPo’s have reflected on this requirement to consciously re-balance focus at each promotion step, and a consistent barrier they communicate is how to find time in the work-day for more strategic focus. In this case, I work with the HiPo to find the correct balance by mapping current and forecasted workload, then identifying opportunities to create more time in their work-day.

Resetting Networks

Most individuals that have been identified as HiPo’s are visible within the organisation because they are gregarious and outgoing. They tend to have a large breadth of network, are easy to work with and generally likeable. Hence why they are being fast-tracked in the organisation.

However, whilst they have extensive networks, many fail to recognize that this network needs to be assessed and reset on promotion. In particular, I have found that most HiPos’s under-appreciate the importance of both strong cross-functional relationships and the need to leverage networks at regional/global levels.

When I work with an individual I ask them to map their current network and then compare it to the network of relationships that they will need to be successful in their future role. I also ask them to critically assess the strength of the required relationships and to develop actions to further strengthen them.

Review Exposure to the Global Teams

The third and often the most difficult theme to address is increasing the exposure of the HiPo to the Global Teams. Even amongst some of the largest MNC’s, I have noticed that very few Managers, even when given exposure, actively engage with colleagues outside Vietnam. More so, I have found that there is a real unwillingness amongst Managers in Vietnam to take advantage of overseas secondments offered by their organisations.

When asked why they don’t engage with Global Teams, common responses include: “they don’t understand Vietnam”, “they are not important”, and “they just create unnecessary work.”

In this case, I work with the HiPo to understand how to leverage these Teams, the influence that Global level may have on future progression within the organisation, and the perception that others may have on the HiPo if they do not actively engage with higher-level Teams.

The above are by no means an exhaustive list of where a HiPo needs to focus, however, I have found they are common discussions that need to be had to ensure success in future roles.


Four Steps Leaders Can Take to Help Identify and Relieve Stress Within their Teams

Four Steps Leaders Can Take to Help Identify and Relieve Stress Within their Teams

Let us help you turn
your workforce into a
true force

Contact us

Silhouette of a person and lights

If you’re finding yourself with increased levels of stress and anxiety in the past few weeks as COVID-19 has tightened its grip on our world, you’re not alone.

Recent research suggests many people experienced moderate to severe psychological impacts during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in China. This is a very normal response and one we can take some practical steps to manage effectively. It’s important that we do this for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, managing our stress levels has a significant and positive impact on our immune system. The World Health Organization has emphasized that boosting our immune system and employing adequate preventative care plays a crucial role in fighting the new Coronavirus. Taking steps to boost our ability to cope with the crisis will therefore also improve our overall well-being and the likelihood of fighting the virus.

It’s also likely that this situation will continue and possibly worsen in the weeks to come; it’s important that we put strategies in place now to deal with stress so it doesn’t overwhelm us, and we can continue to be there for our families, our friends and our colleagues.

To dive deeper into this topic, Mary-Clare Race, Chief Innovation and Product Officer from LHH recently talked to Prof. Janet Reibstein, a clinical psychologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Exeter. She was joined by Sharon Patterson, CHRO at LHH. Together they discussed some of the most common scenarios faced by leaders and the people they lead in the face of this unprecedented global crisis.

Reibstein said there is little doubt that we are now living in “an unprecedented time of anxiety” that is largely due to intense uncertainty. Anxiety, if it is not addressed in a direct and concerted fashion, can trigger a whole spectrum of psychological disorders, she added.

Although we cannot eliminate uncertainty or the anxiety it causes, Reibstein said everyone can take steps to manage it. One of the first steps in that process is to separate “hypothetical anxiety” from “empirical, measurable anxiety.”

Everyone faces challenges that cause anxiety, she said. With some of these challenges, we can take action to remove the root causes of the anxiety. Other challenges, however, may be beyond our individual control. In these scenarios, Reibstein said it’s important to “park” those things that you cannot change.

“You can control your tendency to dwell on the problems that spark anxiety,” she said. “And in particular with things we cannot control, the ‘unmanageables,’ we can park those things and focus on the things we can manage.”

Solutions and suggestions that Reibstein and Patterson recommended during the webinar included:

1. Support leaders with coaching. Patterson said that shortly after LHH implemented a work from home policy, they offered EZRA, LHH’s virtual coaching application, to their senior leadership team. This allows senior leaders to contact a coach virtually to get advice on new or unforeseen challenges. “As HR people, we are always thinking about what we can do to help other people,” Patterson said. “But sometimes, we lose touch with how to help ourselves. Coaching turned out to be a huge benefit to the senior leadership team, giving them an additional layer of support to hone specific skills needed in this difficult time.”

2. Take time away from the crisis. Reibstein said that one of the most important pieces of advice she gives to her patients during virtual counselling sessions is to carve out 15 minutes at the end of the day where you are isolated from computers, televisions, social media and the news. “This is a time when we can focus our thinking on what is going on around us. It’s a time when we can separate out the things we can manage and those things that are unmanageable. Once you’ve done that, you can go find a good source of information, shut out everything else, and find a solution to something that is manageable.”

3. Buddy up. Reibstein noted that “virtual happy hours”—where friends or colleagues gather via video call to get together and connect—can be a great way to stay in contact and relieve anxiety. Similarly, Patterson said she has been trying to establish virtual links between employees facing the same kinds of challenges. This could be someone who is trying to work at home and care for a very young child; or someone who may be isolated at home in a country where they don’t speak the language. “I started to make these little groups of people who are sharing the same experience but in different parts of the world,” Patterson said. “The feedback has been very positive. Just putting people with similar needs in touch with each other is a huge help.”

4. Turn your camera on. Both Patterson and Reibstein said it is essential for leaders to do whatever they can to get full participation from their teams in virtual or video conferencing. And that one of the key things you can do is require that everyone involved turn on their computer cameras so that leaders can not only hear, but also see how someone is reacting. “Sometimes people will hide behind an audio call and that makes it very difficult for leaders to tell how their employees are doing with working at home.” Reibstein agreed, noting that it’s essential that leaders develop the ability to “read the cues” from their employees to gauge their performance in a work-at-home environment. “We need to become better at reading audio and visual cues during these calls. We will be better at relating to our people if we can improve our ability to read these cues.”

This is a stressful time, but it is also an opportunity to change the way leaders relate to their teams. In another recent podcast featuring Keith Ferrazzi, a best-selling author and consultant, he talked about the current pandemic crisis opening a door to “recontracting” with employees. This involves working with teams to reflect on past performance, current challenges and how the team can move forward together.

The challenges we face as the pandemic stretches into the spring will no doubt produce seismic changes in the relationships between employers and their employees. Making an effort to help those employees manage their anxiety and stress will not only make things like virtual work more productive and enjoyable, it may help forge an entirely new and more positive relationship with the people you work with.


Employee Expectations Are Changing: Here’s Where Employers Need to Focus

Employee Expectations Are Changing: Here’s Where Employers Need to Focus

Let us help you turn
your workforce into a
true force

Contact us

calm water with flat stones

Is the gap between employee expectations and the reality of their experience at work holding your company back?

According to Patrick Cournoyer, Chief Evangelist at Peakon, a people analytics and employee engagement firm, a lack of alignment between employee expectations on well-being and what they are experiencing may impact business success.

“There is a huge expectation gap between what employees are feeling and what organizations believe they are providing,” said Cournoyer. “In the future, the organizations that close that gap are going to be more successful.”

Peakon comes to its conclusions about employee expectations and well-being through its latest Heartbeat report, insights from which are built on more than  90 million survey responses from employees all around the world. Cournoyer said Peakon developed the Heartbeat report to help businesses understand concerns about ever-changing employee expectations.

Based on the Peakon database, the company found that 59% of its millions of respondents were disengaged from their jobs in the beginning of 2020. However, less understood is the question of why?

Traditionally, low employee engagement was thought to be a byproduct of weak or toxic leadership, a lack of transparency or accountability at the organizational level, and high employee turnover. And while those factors are all still in play, Cournoyer said employers need to dig a little deeper into their relationships with employees to understand the “why” of low engagement.

Cournoyer said engagement is primarily driven by what employees today expect to get from their jobs and—more importantly—from their employers. This is particularly important at a time when so many people have faced disruption in their working lives from health, social, economic and political issues.

Emerging Expectations

According to the Employee Expectations report, employees now expect their employers to help address environmental concerns, forcing companies to make shifts in how they operate. 

Expectations surged 128% for Gen Z (b. 1995-2015) employees. Millennials (b. 1981-1994), Gen X (b. 1965-1980) and Baby Boomers (b. 1945-1964) followed with increases of 62%, 56% and 59% increases, respectively. “Employees expect their employers to not only share their values but also show willingness to take action on them,” said Cournoyer.

All generations show increasing concern about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, with the Silent Generation (b. 1928-1945) experiencing the highest increase at 31%, more than double the increase seen in Gen Z (+15%), Gen X (+14%) or Boomer (+13%) and a greater increase than seen in Millennials (+22%). Cournoyer advises, “Employees expect their employers to make tangible efforts to build diverse, inclusive cultures that come from a place of honesty, rather than to tick a box or bolster the bottom line.”

Employee concerns about flexible and remote working increased 18% globally. A recent LinkedIn survey of 1,590 business professionals confirms a large majority of workers want flexibility. When asked to choose to return to the office, continue to #WFH or go to a flexible, blended model, only 5% of respondents want to return to the office full-time. A whopping 73% want a flexible, blended approach. “Businesses will need to be cognizant of the tools they need to help each employee flourish while balancing the demands of their role and their lives—and give them the autonomy to do so,” advised Cournoyer.

Well-being is a top priority

Employee expectations are most acute around the issue of well-being. Overall employee concern on the issue of well-being increased by 17% across all demographics; among Gen Z respondents, the increase was 28%.

Cournoyer said the employer brand may be determined in large part by how genuinely they care about their employees’ mental and physical health. With burnout estimated to cost the global economy up to $323.4 billion each year, this is particularly important at a time when there are very clear and present dangers that have the potential to reduce overall well-being, he added.

Leaders are evolving

In some organizations, it will be a challenge for leaders to build an awareness around mental and physical well-being. Many leaders today are single-mindedly focused on the technical aspects of their jobs, or solely concerned with getting projects done on time and on budget, regardless of the toll it takes on the people they are leading.

Cournoyer said it is critical for organizations to look deep within their leadership ranks for people who understand the importance of supporting employee well-being. For those who do not find it is a top-of-mind concern, coaching and development may be needed to cultivate skills that support employee well-being.

“We have to take action as organizations and pivot on employee needs and expectations, especially around well-being,” said Cournoyer. “We need immediate action. It’s not enough to put in a program today and then just sit back. Well-being is about continuous support.”

The report findings also speak to the need for leaders to be patient with employees who are working from home. It emphasizes the importance of training leaders in soft skills like empathy, compassion and clarity around work expectations, he added. Cournoyer said, “Be sure you are considering the full spectrum of well-being and external factors that may impact the employee and contribute to stress.”

Redefining what “productivity” means
In addition to their employee expectations report, Peakon subsequently released a new report outlining how employees and organizations are responding to COVID-19. The analysis from this reveals that the issue of well-being has a huge impact on other areas, including the stress that is created by working away from the normal office setting. 

Even before the pandemic prompted many employers to vacate their offices, there was significant interest from respondents in more flexible arrangements like working from home, he said. Now that employees are getting a measure of what they have always craved, however, other concerns have arisen.

“Employees are concerned about how their organizations view their productivity when they work from home,” Cournoyer said. “They lack some confidence and worry that they won’t be viewed as productive if they can’t provide an immediate response to an email. This is an issue of trust and it’s a major source of concern right now.”

It will be essential for leaders to redefine new metrics for both employers and employees to assess the pace of work and productivity in a virtual setting.

“Leaders need to focus more on output and less on the small and misleading signals they might be getting,” he added. “It’s a new experience for everyone and employees lack confidence about how their employers perceive productivity in a remote setting.”


COVID-19 Is Shining a Light on Leadership: Here’s How It Needs to Evolve

COVID-19 Is Shining a Light on Leadership: Here’s How It Needs to Evolve

Let us help you turn
your workforce into a
true force

Contact us

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head. It’s clear that leaders need to step up and act quickly to find new ways of doing business. There is much we don’t know about what happens next; but what we do know is that outdated leadership approaches won’t work in this new world.

There is no escaping the painful truth that going into this pandemic, leadership was not where it should be. We’re still stuck in outmoded mindsets, re-enforced by outdated development models. Our leaders are not resilient enough, not creative enough and not inspiring enough. The consequences of bad leadership are starkly evident.

A 2016 Gallup survey found that 82 percent of managers are ineffective at leading people. This pairs well with another often-cited Gallup survey that found half of all people who voluntarily left a job did so to get away from a bad manager.

Leaders are not unaware of their shortcomings. A 2019 Gartner survey of 2,800 business leaders found that only half believe they are “well-equipped to lead their organization into the future.”

The arrival of the pandemic is now shining a harsh light on leadership shortfalls and where leaders need to improve.

Increasingly, research in leadership development believes that crises like the COVID-19 pandemic make it much easier to identify bad leaders. In normal times, when there are less urgent threats to navigate, poor leaders can sneak by under the radar. However, when times get tough, most organizations expect leaders to step up and provide a level of effort above and beyond what they were doing before. If they cannot do that, then organizations must re-evaluate the way they are developing their leaders.

Let’s look at the outdated theories and approaches to leadership and how they need to evolve to address current and future challenges.

Changing Mindsets

Outdated MindsetsEmerging Non-Traditional Mindsets
Change ready: Previously, we tried to develop leaders who were ready for change and gave them best practices in how to deal with it. This approach is exemplified by the multitude of models outlining change as a linear process to be managed through.Change agile: Change is continuous and no longer defined as discrete “projects. Change is now defined as a state of constant, unrelenting transformation. Leaders need to be “change entrepreneurs” who constantly look for ways to improve themselves and their teams.
Leads through the hierarchy: In the past, we taught our leaders they should lead from the front. They learned that they needed to present themselves like a crusading knight on a horse, leading an army into battle. This leadership approach also relies heavily on chain of command, cutting off leaders at higher levels from those on the front lines. This erodes engagement and suffocates creativity.Builds inclusion and psychological safety: The antidote to the top-down leader is the more humble “servant leader,” who sees their role as being there to serve the organisation and create the conditions where everyone can bring their full potential to the table. In this model, everyone can challenge and be challenged These leaders ensure they are getting the most from their entire teams, not just the upper levels of the leadership hierarchy.
Has all the answers: Many of us still think that leaders must always be the smartest people in the room. Some embrace this idea believing that unless leaders demonstrate their skill and knowledge, all the time, they cannot earn the confidence of the people they are leading. They ignore the fact that good ideas can and should be coming from all levels of an organisation.Has learning mindset: Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck tells us that good leaders should not be a know-it-all, but rather should aspire to be a learn-it-all. This requires leaders to demonstrate confident uncertainty, where you admit things you don’t know and seek solutions from colleagues and the people you lead. It requires leaders to demonstrate equal measures of humility and expertise.
Internal focus: Traditionally, a lot of our leaders’ time and energy is focused internally on running operational challenges. This can cut us off from all the things happening in the outside world—from market conditions to other current events and from new innovative approaches to problem solving. External focus: If the novel coronavirus pandemic is teaching us anything, it is that the world will look profoundly different once the pandemic has eased. Leaders need to maintain a keen external view and be up to date on market, geopolitical and social trends and events that could impact the future of the organization.

Changing Behaviors

Outdated BehaviorsEmerging Non-Traditional Behaviors
Gives regular feedback: In the past, leaders were told to provide feedback to employees without defining what kind of feedback. This led to static and unproductive interactions between manager and employee. Difficult or awkward performance issues were usually kept on the sidelines. This approach strips value from feedback. Embraces radical candor: In her book “Radical Candor,” Kim Scott outlines the dividends that come from balancing difficult conversations with genuine empathy. Leaders must always demonstrate that they care about their employees. But they must also confront mistakes and poor performance in a focused and purposeful way.
Favors top down communication: There was a time when leaders could fulfill all their communication responsibilities by posting a memo on the bulletin board with the hope that everybody read and understood the message. Information was shared only on a “need to know” basis and employees were reminded that they didn’t need to know everything. This creates skepticism and distrust. Taps into the social movement: Smart leaders know that communication in organizations rarely flows through formal channels. They avoid top-down messaging and adopt a more grass-roots approach where leaders at all levels in the organization are empowered to share messages. This allows leaders to create a two-way conversation where information is exchanged in equal measure with feedback, unleashing the collective power of your team or organization. 
Periodic and static performance conversations: Far too many organisations have a very two-dimensional approach to performance conversations. Many current performance management systems require one or two static conversations between leader and employee in a specified time frame. But many times, these conversations lack focus and purpose. Regular and dynamic performance conversations: Performance is not something you only think about twice a year. Performance conversations need to be more fluid and frequent. When you share observations about how people are doing in real time the people you lead can learn and improve themselves on a regular basis. 
Busyness and long work hours as a badge of honor: Particularly in a crisis, traditional leadership models embrace the idea that results need to be achieved at any cost. As a result, leaders often trade their own health and well-being for organizational goals.The best leaders know how to thrive: Leaders want to build a culture of well-being that drives engagement and productivity and balances effective prioritization of workload with looking after their own intellectual, emotional and physical health. Leaders who tend to all of these elements are much better placed to thrive and be successful. 

Unfortunately, the current state of leadership in many organizations is not what is needed to survive this crisis. Will this crisis be the turning point that forces companies to jump start more effective leadership development? We have an opportunity to objectively assess the current state of our leadership and apply new behaviors that we already know work better.

A crisis can expose weak leaders. It can also inspire us to be better leaders.

LHH uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more Accept