Covid-19 has presented a whole new set of challenges for leaders and their teams. Daily face to face contact has been replaced by Teams and Zoom. Although these tools have opened up communication possibilities and the new way of working has had many benefits, there still exists some challenges in how we organise, manage and motivate our teams. Leadership: On and Off the Field, sought to find out how leaders in different worlds were adapting. ActionPoint CEO and Host David Jeffreys was joined by Munster Rugby Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree and Modular Automation CEO Vivian Farrell to discuss these challenges in leadership as a result of the pandemic in both the sports and technology worlds. Let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways.

Graham Rowntree, Forwards Coach, Munster Rugby  

Connection

With Covid-19 having an extraordinary impact in sport and how teams and training dynamics had to run, Munster Rugby coach Graham Rowntree said that he believed checking in on the team was one of the most important elements to his role during lockdown:

“Within weeks we realised we weren’t going to be playing again. Very soon it became obvious that there was so much uncertainty that we just kept in touch with the players, I think that’s leadership. I’m ringing my lads asking, “how are you doing, how’s things at home, how’s family life, do you need anything?” Just keeping that connection because that’s what you don’t have when you’re not together every day. That’s important. Yeah, I’m their coach but I care about them.”

Adaptability

Getting back in action hasn’t looked the same for sport in a post- Covid world and adaptability is what Graham says is the key to moving forward: “We had a very well thought out, graduated return to play from the IRFU. We were socially distanced week one, we weren’t able to pass the ball to each other. Within a few weeks, we were able to do a bit of contact. We were wiping down everything afterwards. The team have been eating packed lunches out of their cars. They have got on with it. That’s the mantra now. This is it, let’s make it work. More than any other culture or environment I’ve experienced, this crew get on with it.”

Vivian Farrell, CEO Modular Automation  

Business Continuity

Much like every CEO and team member across the globe, Modular Automation CEO Vivian Farrell never expected workplace conditions to take the turn like they did in March. She believes a quick response and a passion for technology and efficiency allowed her team to operate as best as possible, remotely:

“It was safety first and what do we need to put in place to make sure that we were supporting our people. We immediately enabled people to work from home. It was a bit of a scramble. I never thought it was something I would have to do as CEO and send the communication to tell people that we were closing our doors, but we did it. Since then, we got the building back up and running, we’re in good shape and things are returning to a new normal.”

A leader for the leaders

The old saying: “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is a similar sentiment to Vivian’s beliefs in terms of leader’s and looking after themselves first, to enable them to nurture their teams. “Be gentle on yourself, there is no playbook for what we are going through or have gone through. What have we learned in the last couple of months? Understand there’s still a road ahead. Keep the energy going, look after our mental health, look after our physical health as leaders, so that we have the energy to push through. We don’t know what’s ahead of us. We can have hope, be optimistic, we all have big plans for our businesses and for our teams. We want to achieve those and see them succeed. But as leaders, we have to look after ourselves as well so that we’re there for our teams to meet whatever challenge is going to come at us.”

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