October 2, 2023

The Keys to Effective Leadership in Uncertain Times

Jessica Diaz Effective Leadership in Uncertain Times

Jessica Diaz, assistant professor of psychology, director of CGU’s Human Resource Management program, and a new alum (PhD, Psychology/Organizational Behavior, 2023), believes in transforming workplaces into spaces where individuals can flourish and where collective power can accomplish bigger goals.

She says it starts with excellent leadership and transparent communication.

What Employees Want Most in Uncertain Times,” co-authored with CGU doctoral student Kristine Powers and published in the Winter 2023 edition of MIT Sloan Management Review, used the COVID-19 pandemic as an archetypal crisis and found that workers sought:

  • Clear information about their role in the organization
  • Timely communication
  • Instrumental and emotional support

As Diaz sees it, transparency isn’t about telling everyone everything—it’s a more nuanced process of building trust by demonstrating benevolence, integrity, and confidence. In situations such as potential layoffs, CEOs could take a page from how managers employ individualized consideration by expressing sentiments such as “I don’t know what’s going to happen yet, but layoffs are always scary” and “What’s most concerning to you right now?” Both devote attention to the person’s individual concerns instead of seeming to deflect them with one-size-fits-all statements.

Showing such vulnerability can itself be a powerful way of building trust with employees because it shows integrity, Diaz says. Coupled with benevolence and confidence, such actions address divergent as well as unmet/unmeetable needs from employees in trying times, all while building trust.

Diaz says the principles of leadership apply both in person and remotely.

“There are definitely some tactical differences in terms of how managers need to be more deliberate in virtual spaces,” she explained. “But the core principles of applying individualized consideration and building trust don’t change, because no matter where we are, we always need the same thing—someone we can trust.”