18 May 2022

Vsevolod Zelenin, MIM-Kyiv’s professor, coach, and CEO of the ZeleninLab shares his thoughts on keeping internal balance no matter what. He pays special attention to how leaders can help their teams in overcoming psychological problems and which signs are true red flags.

- Teams are very organic. The war changes the dynamics. For example, people decide on their own routines – when to get up or which work pace they prefer. The same is with group dynamics because people’s reactions to stress vary. Some prefer to overload themselves, others are too exhausted.

- All good leaders start with reality checks. First of all, they try to understand how their people adjust to new conditions and offer the workload respectively. Such an approach often calls for different ways of working. You cannot force people as you could in peacetime.

- Your new reality shapes your managerial style. Ukrainian psychology advises authoritarian style under the circumstances. Leaders are recommended to act like the military and give simple tasks to reduce confusion and give people the feeling of control.

- Try to help people find regularities even in unusual things. Act as if it is merely new conditions of working. Regardless of the military, political or economic shifts try to establish routines in the organization. To do so, leaders should monitor and understand their inner conditions.

- The blend of authoritarian style and empathy is working the best. People need support when they are at a loss or going through their personal worries. In such situations, clear guidelines may help. Say something like “you have to follow a certain schedule” or “you need to have a rest”. Sometimes it may even sound like an order: “Stop working and go for a walk” or “go back after some rest”. If you merely force people to do something, double pressure may break your people. When you account for people's inner situations, they start to think critically and learn to recover and accumulate inner resources.

- Communications also need adjusting. If before the war you could gather together many people and they shared their information, it was OK. Nowadays, we risk having people who are suffering from the grief caused by the war. If they share their grief, you may jeopardize the effectiveness of the meeting. Leaders need to learn about their people beforehand. Large meetings may not be effective. It is better to have smaller meetings. If some people have emotional problems, isolating them and helping them individually the team may help keep the teams’ productivity. It is an unusual way to act because we did not pay attention to such things before the war.

- Select your words carefully because people are very sensitive. Think about the communication style. Your question “How are you?” is not a functional phrase anymore. It helps you to monitor the situation. People may answer “Fine thanks” and “I am not well, I need to do this and that to recover”. Leaders should become more attentive in their communications.For more information visit the recording of the episode.