The pandemic has challenged leaders: can you step up your leadership and truly lead through this ongoing crisis?

Many are stepping up to this challenge and rolling up their leaders’ sleeves. The common skills these successful leaders share are clarity, compassion, and consistency. This blog will address the pillar of “Clear Leadership and Expectations”, the next in the series on the 13 pillars of Psychological Health and Safety. For more information on the 13 pillars, visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety.

The definition from the National Standard for Clear Leadership and Expectations is “A work environment where there is effective leadership and support that helps employees know what they need to do, how their work contributes to the organization, and whether there are changes coming.”

It then specifies “A workplace with Clear Leadership and Expectations would be able to state that:

• In their jobs, employees know what they are expected to do.

• Leadership in our workplace is effective.

• Staff is informed about important changes at work in a timely manner.

• Supervisors provide helpful feedback to employees on their performance.

• Our organization provides clear, effective communication.”

The above is achieved with clear communications, compassion to support staff during challenges, and being consistent and predictable across situations.

To effectively communicate, especially in times of increased stress, the message needs to be clear and straight forward. This is not the time for creative analogies and metaphors.  The messages should be communicated frequently and in different methods, where possible. Predictable and explicit communications are easier understood and more likely to be followed. For example, saying “we need to strategically align our approaches to maximize our goals” is not as clear as saying “teams need to coordinate transitioning customers from one department to the next for a seamless customer experience”. The second option explains what needs to happen and how success can be monitored.  It is also explicit and, assuming it aligns with previous messages and organizational goals, it is also predictable.

Leaders need to ensure they are holding true to their organization’s goals and objectives. The mission/vision/ values of the organization must guide all activities and decisions even during the pandemic. Priorities may shift, but the foundation of the business needs to remain solid. Staff must understand how their roles and activities contribute to overall success and those roles must remain predicable and stable, even when little else is. Employees who see how their efforts directly contribute to the organization are more likely to take pride in their work and feel a sense of accomplishment. Individuals who know their efforts are recognized and appreciated supports a positive work environment and engaged staff.

Leadership requires compassion for their employees. Staff worried about physical safety, or the impact of work on their family, will not be capable of delivering their best at work. This includes home office workers. When people experience excessive stress, they are not able to engage their rational brain. When that stress is lessened or managed, they regain access to their thinking brain and become productive once again. Looking at creative ways to support the varying needs of the staff team will impact their productivity and reduce errors.

For more information on effectively leading your herd and building more resilient work teams, contact CHC Consulting at [email protected] or visit our website at

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