The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all a chance to observe an experiment in leadership on an unprecedented scale. From governments to businesses – in these months it has repeatedly been proven that teams that include people of different genders and backgrounds manage crisis more effectively.

Leda Iržikevičienė, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Sorainen, says that this does not mean that female leaders or people from certain backgrounds are necessarily better managers, but that ‒ in organisations which ensure diversity ‒ decisions are made differently. Comments Leda: “Including diverse groups of people in decision making allows us to approach problems more openly and flexibly. It also enables us to better represent the interests of every member of the organisation. This has proven especially valuable in critical situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Adapting to new circumstances requires complex solutions

In recent months all organisations have been facing challenges in their everyday work. Ensuring that the business runs smoothly has required much more than providing employees with physical working tools. Such transitions require careful consideration of factors such as mental and physical health of employees, learning new collaboration techniques, ensuring full transparency in decision making and organisational communication. According to Leda, to be able to keep all these aspects in mind, it is vital to have leaders with different perspectives.

Transparency, communication and attention to employee needs

Among the most successful practices implemented in Sorainen during the lockdown, Leda mentions online Town Hall meetings, virtual Friday morning coffee and regular weekly updates by management. She comments: “Through these initiatives, we share key information with our teams across four countries. We discuss the current situation in the firm, projections for the upcoming weeks and months, plus the latest decisions related to crisis management, among other key topics. The possibility to ask questions (either anonymously or not) during these online meetings increases the team’s engagement as well as mutual trust.”

Enabling access to psychological help in this challenging situation has also proved to be an essential tool for ensuring the well-being of the team. Several psychologists were hired to provide online consultations to Sorainen employees who wished to try it out.

Teamwork from home?

Leda also emphasised the importance of teamwork: “Our organisational culture relies heavily on team effort and collaboration. So it was essential for us to maintain this when teams were unable to physically meet, discuss work or simply have coffee or lunch together. We encouraged teams to ensure more frequent team check-ins, introduced virtual coffee breaks, internal webinars and even organised team-building events such as online quizzes.” According to Leda, these efforts have paid off – team members truly supported each other and people managed to ensure efficient work remotely as well as plan and organise work effectively.

Such a sudden change of circumstances required quick solutions and a holistic approach. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, so each organisation has to find its way of adapting. The more different voices are involved in the decision-making process, the more likely they are to find the best-fitting solutions.