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4 lessons every leader should keep in mind right now

11 Sep 2020

How can you be honest with your teams? What does it mean to lead with empathy? These lessons in leadership might help you navigate the current circumstances and prepare for the future.

Leadership can be hard to get right, particularly during a global pandemic. This week in Careers, we heard from a number of people leading their teams in different ways.

1. Agile leadership in a crisis

We spoke to Gary Hartnett, general manager of Janssen Ireland, about how he has led his team in recent months. As a Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company, many Janssen employees have had to continue working on site to deliver drug products for patients. For Hartnett, this has required “strong and effective communication” and a “very agile operational model”.

“We’re keeping the measures we’ve implemented in the workplace in place maybe longer than will be expected,” he said. “But we will be very conservative by our nature because our core responsibility is to protect our employees and keep our business moving so we can keep our patients supplied with the key products and medicines that they need.”

2. Transparent leadership

As we move into a new era of work driven by the changes we’ve experienced during Covid-19, honesty and openness will be key. David Brown, CEO of Hays US, explained in this piece that “as leaders, we sometimes forget that we don’t know everything”.

From now on, he said, sharing the good news with the bad, keeping your door firmly open and actively listening to staff will all become tenets of transparent leadership.

3. Leading towards the future of work

What can leaders expect from workplaces of the future? How can they prepare? Alex Ferreira, Avanade Ireland’s modern-workplace director, spoke to us about his predictions.

He explained that now is the time to “invest in your employee experience and ensure staff can be productive, communicate and collaborate in a smooth and consistent way, wherever they are, and across all of your workforce”.

4. Leading with empathy

Finally, it’s highly likely that many teams will continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future. At Microsoft Ireland, remote working has been part of its culture for a long time, but Covid-19 still caused some major shake-ups.

According to Cathriona Hallahan, Microsoft Ireland’s managing director, many practices had to be given a rethink and empathy has been crucial for helping teams during this period. Empathetic leadership is important for all businesses right now, she added.

“You don’t necessarily need the advanced infrastructure that a company like Microsoft has. What you need is to just have that human connection with your employees, to understand where they’re coming from and to see if there are small things that you … can do to support them.”

Jobs news

In jobs news this week, Facebook announced that it’s now taking applications for its Return to Work scheme in Ireland. It promises to give participants support to re-enter employment through training, tools and mentorship. At the end of a 16-week programme, participants will also be considered for a permanent job at the company.

Dublin start-up CleverCards also announced 30 new jobs across product development, engineering, sales and marketing. It will hire for the positions over the next six months.

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Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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