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How Fighting A War Against A Virus Is Helping Create A New Role In The C-Suite Leadership now needs to focus on unifying people and profit in harmony in the face of this new omnipresent turmoil. It will be the teams that feel heard and considered, as the individual humans that they are, that will be able to truly rally around the innovative solutions that will save our businesses.

By Mimi Nicklin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


As 2020 continues to show us that it never had a "normal" year in store for us, we are seeing changes across the board when it comes to our approach to business practice. Nowhere is this more visible than in leadership, where our need and requirement to lead in "times of crisis" has leaders worldwide grappling with the changing realities of their teams and clients on an almost daily basis.

It is in times of intense stress that humanity rallies together, across borders, across differences, and across industries. As we face a shared enemy head on, our strength derives from our ability to unify as people and as leaders to centralize mutual understanding within a system driven by regenerative leadership. Today, we are still facing a health enemy, but it is the socio-economic enemy that will bring us together over the long term.

More than ever, leadership now needs to focus on unifying people and profit in harmony in the face of this new omnipresent turmoil. It will be the teams that feel heard and considered, as the individual humans that they are, that will be able to truly rally around the innovative solutions that will save our businesses. The power of regenerative leadership and empathetic connection in the corporate world covers a set of skills that have garnered more and more attention in recent years.

It is the current social environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, that has demanded a fast tracking of the need for leadership to truly understand their teams beyond their output alone. As we approach the middle of the year, we are seeing a requirement for a brand new role into leadership systems worldwide, a reframing of the current CEO role, or an addition to leadership systems- and it is arriving in the form of the aptly named Chief Empathy Officer. It's a role that the UAE, and many Gulf markets, have been underestimating for over a decade, and it is now coming to the fore as millennial-skewed employees demand greater levels of connectivity and emotional intelligence than ever before

Empathy itself is the corporate skillset that underpins this regenerative leadership as an approach. It is our ability to understand each other, and to see the perspective of another, that allows us to connect and create cohesive and productive team cultures that can adapt and overcome at a pace. The top three areas we will see change in the most responsive, connected, and adaptive leaders in the region include the following:

1. Truly regenerative leaders will ensure they have a deep understanding of others Lee Hsien Loong, Jacinda Ardern, and Satya Nadella are examples of leaders that make it their business to put humanity beyond the bottom line. The current context means our business success relies on our people to lead our economics, and indeed, if our people thrive, the economics will follow; if not immediately, then sustainably, as we recover together. To prosper in the months ahead of us, every CEO is a Chief Empathy Officer above all else.

2. Regenerative leaders understand that performance is emotionally led Our cognitive ability is inextricably linked with our emotional system. At the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is the need for safety and security. These are humanity's basics. When people feel safe, they grow, they perform, they can commit. When people are working in environments fueled by stress and isolation, they are unable to optimally deliver on their potential, as well as finding themselves lacking in loyalty, trust, and strategic thinking.

3. Recognition that relationship building is based on trust defeating turmoil Leaders of trust fuel calm from the chaos. Trust is built from listening to people around you. It will be in listening to your teams to hear them, and not simply to reply, that we will drive incremental growth. More than ever the role now of those responsible for a team is to talk less and listen more, to ask more poignant questions, and to recognize that everyone that has a story, has value.

As we face a new era of corporate comradery, it shouldn't be so hard to remember that above all else, all business is about people. Whatever you sell, whatever it is that makes you your money, it will be the people that dig us out of this crisis, and leaders shouldn't risk underestimating the power they hold when they empathize with what it is that makes their people tick. As all business leaders look to regenerate their organizations in the months ahead, empathizing with your workforce and your clients could be the difference between gasping for air and grabbing success. It will be the CEOs that can reframe the "E" in their title to empathy that might just find themselves ahead of the rest.

Mimi Nicklin's new book, Softening The Edge, is available to pre-order and will be released on September 15, 2020. It is available for pre-order on here.

Related: How Reverse Mentoring Can Disrupt C-Suite Thinking (And Deliver Confidence In The Future)

Mimi Nicklin

Marketer and Communications Specialist, and Author of Softening The Edge

Mimi Nicklin is an experienced marketer and communications specialist, and a well-known empathetic leader. For over 14 years, she has been working across the globe with her clients to drive stand out creative interventions that lead to business and culture change. Driven by the pursuit of bringing conscientiousness to the role and impact of leadership, with a desire to make the world of work a more empathetic, valuable and sustainably healthy place to be, Mimi is currently working on the launch of her first book, Softening The Edge. Having lived and worked in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Dubai, Mimi’s uniquely global perspective changes organizations from the inside out, focusing on cultural, behavioral, and mindset change. Based in Dubai, she is a natural coach, writer, and creative mind, and has held roles as diverse as Strategic Director, Vice President, and Creative Officer in some of the world’s leading advertising agencies. Mimi’s passion for balancing humanism with capitalism drives her commitment to leading the practice of conscientious and empathetic leadership and her “principles of people” into organizations worldwide.

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