Why Leaders Need to Overcommunicate During a Crisis To lead through challenging times, Thoughtspot CEO Sudheesh Nair is making sure his team has more information than they need.
Sudheesh Nair knows what bad communication looks like. During the 2001 and 2008 economic downturns, he was working at companies where the leadership team made decisions behind closed doors and simply conveyed instructions to team members afterward. "There was no context for employees," says Nair, now the CEO of ThoughtSpot, an analytics and data company. "When you give people responsibility without context or authority, it's a recipe for disaster." That's why, throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Nair is taking a different approach to leading his 500 global employees. "We're going for radical transparency and candor," he says. Here's how he's creating a better conversation.
1. Be an accessible leader.
Before the company started working from home, Nair would often take breaks at the Sunnyvale HQ's coffee shop, and his casual conversations often led to valuable insight. "I wanted to duplicate that in the worlds of Zoom and Webex," Nair says. "Whenever I have some free time on my calendar, I'll send out a Zoom link in Slack and let our staff know that I'll be hanging out for the next half an hour. Anyone can join, and it's like a virtual coffee place." He started calling these virtual coffee chats AMAs, like on Reddit's Ask Me Anything series, but has shifted the moniker to AMTA, for Ask Me or Tell Me Anything. "Sometimes our CRO joins me, and it has really helped us understand and work through the difficulties and challenges people within the company have been going through."