“Leaders: be a rock star”

“Leaders: be a rock star”

How do I maintain a meaningful connection with my employees now that teleworking is the new way of working? That’s the question every employer is asking themselves right now. According to Professor Frederik Anseel, the answer lies in finding the right balance between physical distance and psychological closeness. “CEOs can learn something from rock stars,” says the professor of management at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He explains his argument in detail during the first LEADERS MEETING PARIS Web Talks. But we’re giving you a little preview today.

According to Anseel, one of the main principles that senior executives must take into account in this crisis is employees’ psychological safety, the question of whether employees feel safe with their employers. “To do that, they scan their entire surroundings. This is how they test whether their employers are actually doing what they say,” explains Anseel. “But a crisis brings many uncertainties with it. As a result, the balance between word and deed is often lost. Moreover, the current crisis is isolating employees from their colleagues. That quick scan is suddenly much more difficult. The employees’ psychological safety is under pressure.”

Professor Frederik Anseel

An open, involved attitude is the solution. The management professor takes his inspiration for this from stars like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and U2. “They sing in massive stadiums in front of thousands of people. Yet these audiences don’t feel like a single mass: every person in that audience feels like they’re right on stage, even though the physical distance is sometimes quite large. Even though artists don’t know anyone in the audience personally, attendees often feel like the artists are speaking directly to them. Because these stars know better than anyone how to address their audience. This is how they create a deep connection with their audience. And that’s the kind of connection senior executives have to create with their employees.”

Does this mean CEOs should put on their glitter suits or purple sunglasses to take the next video call? Of course not. According to Anseel, the secret lies in authenticity. Every manager has to find their own tone. “Listening to employees and anticipating their concerns is crucial. Employees want to feel that their employer understands them and involves them in the organisation. Managers who want to connect meaningfully should look for the balance between physical distance and psychological closeness.”

The U2 song ‘Faraway, So Close’ never sounded so appropriate.


During the LEADERS MEETING PARIS Web Talks, Professor Frederik Anseel will talk extensively with Isabel Albers, General Editor-in-Chief of the newspapers De Tijd and L’Echo. Curious to find out what else Professor Frederik Anseel has to say about Meaningful Connections? Would you like to ask the professor a question? Then simply register for the Web Talks via this link.

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