Gerard O’Donovan: Caring communication is the most
important element of any business

 Sara Klusch

In order for business leaders to create a workplace culture that places the mental wellbeing of their employees at its core, leaders need to practice caring communication. The manner in which leaders communicate should show their team members how valued they are, says Gerard O’Donovan, CEO of Noble Manhattan Group, one of the world’s oldest professional coach training companies. He is also a life and leadership development coach, specialising in helping people achieve peak performance in everything they do.

In this exclusive interview, we spoke to Gerard about the effects of the pandemic on leadership and the coaching industry. Find advice below on how leaders can help their teams through the pandemic and how business owners can reach more potential clients.

How has the pandemic affected the coaching industry? What challenges are coaches facing because of the pandemic, and how can they overcome these?

Gerard O’Donovan: The pandemic has actually had a dramatic effect on the industry in a number of ways. Firstly, there are more people now wishing to become professional coaches, who have made the first steps in becoming certified by undertaking appropriate training. Secondly, we are seeing an increase in people searching for coaching for themselves. This is mainly because of the difficult situations people are facing in light of the pandemic and they are looking for answers regarding how to navigate these times both on a personal and professional level. Some of these services are also being paid for by companies for their employees and managers.

Has the pandemic affected the way you view leadership and if so, how? What do you think are the key traits of a leader?

Gerard O’Donovan: Yes indeed, the pandemic has caused many changes in leadership. Business owners and leaders have had to completely review the way that they transact business and the way they engage with their employees, teams, and customers. However, whilst the way leaders need to act now has changed, I would say that the key traits of leaders have stayed the same. Leaders still need to have the following four characteristics and skills:

Vision: Leaders should have the ability to share a motivating vision of their company with their people.

Communication: Leaders should be able to communicate their vision with all stakeholders of a company.

Trust: Through their communication and integrity, they create an atmosphere where their people trust them.

Learn and grow: Leaders should stay humble and always be prepared to engage in the process of getting better – in the process of learning.

What are some of the greatest challenges that company leaders are facing because of the pandemic? What strategies can they implement to overcome these?

Gerard O’Donovan: There are probably three obvious challenges to all business owners in the world today. The first would be how to generate new business and continue business in these very difficult times. A second challenge would be how to communicate in new and innovative ways and lastly, to stand out from the crowd. When I say that leaders need to communicate, I don’t only mean that they need to reach out to customers or potential clients.

This may seem like a daunting situation but solutions are at hand. The technological platforms we have been using over the past 12 months such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, and Google Meets provide a way for leaders to communicate with their teams. The lack of physical contact with their teams has challenged many business owners and leaders to go back to basics and prioritise internal communication through various channels. Ultimately this has allowed them to be in touch with their people on a regular basis and build relationships with them. Leaders should make use of the technology around them and ensure they stay in touch with their teams.

Another strategy that will allow leaders to overcome the challenges posed to them by the pandemic is for them to offer some of their company’s resources and services for free. This will allow them to reach potential clients faster.

How can business leaders create a workplace culture that places the mental wellbeing of their employees at its core? What are some practical steps they can take to create such a work environment?

Gerard O’Donovan: The most important strategy here is constant, caring communication. It is important for leaders to find ways of constantly communicating with their people but they should ensure that their communication reflects their care for their teams.

In fact, business leaders and managers all over the world have had to relearn how to communicate with their people in a deep and personal way. For many managers, this has meant going back to school and learning how to use new technology and programs, as well as learning to be more empathic in their communication. This has been a great eye-opener for most leaders and managers as they realise that personal communication is one of the most important elements of any business.

This is of course is where coaching skills really come into their own. So many managers and leaders see the benefits of coaching and now want to add a coaching qualification to their existing skillset, which will equip them to deliver real and profound value to their people.

What advice do you have for leaders on how to take care of their own mental health?

Gerard O’Donovan: Personally, I am a huge believer in meditation. I think taking some quiet time for yourself every day is absolutely crucial. It allows people to take time for themselves during which they can think, reflect, plan and relax.

What can leaders do to promote diversity and inclusion in their workplace, especially among C-suite executives? Why is it in their interest to do so?

Gerard O’Donovan: Diversity brings creativity in teams and helps create an atmosphere and an environment of inclusion which leads to growth.

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