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The term "leadership" refers to the act of directing or persuading others (Mfikwe and Pelser, 2017). One of the most important qualities of a great leader is the ability to adapt one's approach to the situation. The coronavirus outbreak has put enormous pressure on commercial and government leaders worldwide. Employees and other stakeholders are concerned because of the human cost of COVID-19(Singh and Haynes, 2020). Managers have a difficult time responding to the pandemic because of its sheer size and unpredictability. A "landscape-scale crisis" is defined as an unanticipated occurrence or series of events of tremendous scope and overwhelming pace, resulting in confusion, a sense of loss of control, and intense emotional disturbance (Mburu, 2020). Apparently, the outbreak exhibits the markings of such an event. During such a crisis, leaders must give up the assumption that a top-down reaction would lead to long-term success.
By following a planned reaction in ordinary situations, a normal company's command-and-control organization may effectively manage operations. However, in times of crisis marked by ambiguity, leaders are forced to deal with issues that they do not fully comprehend (Akram et al., 2019). A leader's responsibility also includes fostering a climate of psychological safety, which is particularly important in the high-stress setting of a crisis, so that employees may freely express their thoughts, questions, and worries without fear of negative consequences (Thambusamy and Bekiro?ullar?, 2020). Uncertain or inconsistent priorities may be a problem for workers in the most extreme instances. Having a clear set of goals is critical during times of uncertainty, but it's difficult to attain (Mfikwe and Pelser, 2017). Therefore, the following report discuss the two leadership challenges namely "Leading and Managing Virtual Teams” and “Employee Wellbeing" in context of the UK retail organization Tesco Plc. The report also offers solutions to the identified challenges with the implementation of relevant theories.
Tesco plc is among the UK's major retail food chains, and it presently ranks first in the country's top 10 supermarket chains (Evans and Mason, 2018). Tesco reported in early 2005 that it had made a profit of £2 billion for the first time, making it the third-largest supermarket in the world by revenue. Retail groceries is the biggest business in the United Kingdom, employing millions of people both in manufacture and retail (Afsar, Masood, and Umrani, 2019). Nine percent of domestic output was generated by retail in 2003. “T.E.Stockwell”, a tea seller, and “Jack Cohen”, the founder of Tesco plc, were the inspiration for the name TESCO. To create a new label for Tesco in 1924, “Jack Cohen combined the first three letters of the supplier's name (TES), with the first two letters of his surname (CO) to make TESCO”. He started selling excess goods from an East End booth in 1919. With 2,318 outlets and more than 326,000 employees, Tesco is the world's biggest food retailer.
As a leader in an executive role, democratic leadership in the workplace is often believed to be one of the most successful. A democratic leader is one who involves the rest of the Organisation in the decision-making process by inviting them to participate (Fiaz, Su, and Saqib, 2017). As a result, their leadership fosters an environment where everyone feels valued, recognized, and appreciated. Management at Tesco has adopted a democratic leadership style, or participatory leadership, in which workers' input is taken into account when making decisions (Wood, Wrigley, and Coe, 2017). Customers may expect exceptional service from Tesco because of its solid leadership. As previously said, management puts a significant emphasis on the selection of department heads to supervise daily activities at the company (Talu and Nazarov, 2020). All workers must understand their duties and responsibilities, execute strategic choices through conference-based meetings with follow-ups on employees to ensure that they aren't straying away from offering high-quality services, and keep the business operating smoothly. As a result, the organization's structure has been restructured by the team leaders in each department. Each shop's duty manager is an expert in duty management and ensures that all team leaders are appropriately trained, validated, and involved in the store's daily operations.
It is apparent that leadership skills and qualities forms an integral part for an organization’s operation as well as people management in terms of uncertainty. Being a leader is difficult in and of itself. A leader faces three distinct types of challenges: those posed by people and circumstances outside the organisation; those posed by the leader's own character and abilities; and those posed by the very nature of the position itself (Aslam, Muqadas, and Imran, 2018). The leadership and management team of an organization confront a variety of problems and dangers as they seek to effectively manage and maintain the workplace culture (Akram et al., 2019). Leading as well as managing virtual teams, as well as employee well-being, are two of the most significant and potentially difficult issues that many company executives are dealing with as their organisations operate under the pandemic conditions (Aslam, Muqadas, and Imran, 2018). Work-from-home policies have been enforced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing organizations and their executives to follow suit. Work-from-home managers face a variety of obstacles when attempting to oversee their teams remotely.
Additionally, some of the workers have been affected by the coronavirus epidemic as a result of a lack of attention to employee well-being. As a result of this, numerous staff have resigned from their positions at the company (Castillo and Hallinger, 2018). Because of this, the top executives have been compelled to use and apply adequate leadership practices in order to effectively manage the workforce within the company's culture. Virtual teams including employee well-being may also be adequately managed by the leadership using this method.
There are several ways to deal with the first problem of Managing and Leading Virtual Teams, but one of the most crucial (and hardest) is to get the communication right (Serrat, 2017). Face-to-face discussions, such as those that occur spontaneously and lead to the discovery of novel ideas, are abundant in the typical office setting. It has been shown that poor communication inside and between teams is one of the classic office problems that's made worse in a remote working environment. It is common for virtual leaders to have issues with communication across teams, which may lead to blunders, misinterpretations or double-tasking (Wood, Wrigley, and Coe, 2017). Communication breakdowns might also lead to confusion among staff members. Employees who work from home may experience a loss of cohesiveness as a result of their sense of isolation. Team members' ability to connect with one another is compromised if they don't get regular face-to-face time together. COVID-19 underscores the need for remote teams to work together as a cohesive one.
Employees who work from home have a variety of challenges, including juggling childcare responsibilities and maintaining their own physical and emotional well-being(Wei, Thurasamy and Popa, 2018). Team leaders must do more to foster a collaborative and balanced work environment in the modern workplace. Exchange and communication are hindered when there is a lack of technological know-how (Wang et al., 2021). Leadership programs and executive presence training are seen as the best ways to gain the trust of your employees and achieve remarkable outcomes. A lack of face-to-face time between managers and their teams makes it impossible to foster the kind of deep ties necessary to foster a sense of shared purpose, cooperation, and strategic team development. In the event that workers are working outside the regular office structure, one of the main issues is that of low productivity (D’Cruz, 2020). Some members of a team may not perform at their best if they are not properly monitored and interacted with, putting them at danger of burnout.
Organizations' Human Resources (HR) departments are challenged by the pandemic, which requires them to be able to adapt and cope with rapid shifts in demand as a result of a pandemic. Identifying and addressing employee-related difficulties during and after a pandemic necessitates a review of HR's strategy. The expected surge in absence necessitates that firms have a comprehensive absence management system in place to guarantee that absences are recorded properly and in a timely way (Talu and Nazarov, 2020). As a result, front-line workers have also been vulnerable to the virus that caused them to quit their jobs. This, in turn, led to a host of management and leadership issues for businesses. In the face of an unnoticed but possibly lethal threat, front-line employees must labour harder and quicker than ever before. In addition to ensuring the safety of their employees, companies must also deal with the tiredness and stress that arises from the demands of crisis management (Talu and Nazarov, 2020). Many people will feel guilty if they are unable to care for their families because of their employment, while others will suffer as they self-isolate from their loved ones because they are afraid of transmission. Additionally, it's clear that many workers are suffering from psychological and mental issues as a result of the pandemic epidemic and distant working conditions (Ferreira et al., 2021). To make matters even worse, the absence of face-to-face meetings as well as group discussions has made it much more difficult for executives in pandemic situations to keep up with employee well-being concerns in their firms.
Many organizations have been compelled to reconsider their business strategies at breakneck speed due to the COVID-19 situation. The pandemic and the dramatic increase in the usage of videoconferencing throughout the world have proved that remote working, if practicable, is here to stay (Prasad et al., 2020). There are numerous benefits to working from home, but it may also have its own set of obstacles for those who are fed up with their daily drive. Tesco executives who work from home or in another remote arrangement encounter loneliness, time management issues, and digital misunderstanding. As a result of remote working, Tesco has challenges with staff communication. Since a result, the organization's activities were hindered by the communication gap, as not all tasks could be completed online (Gigauri, 2020). As a result, the company's profitability was impeded in the first half by the use of machines to substitute human labour, which in turn raised the organization's operational costs. Employees at Tesco may soon operate with the kind of freedom and adaptability that is more often associated with the "gig" economy, like Uber. Rob Moss provides an update on the supermarket's efforts to make the most of its human resource pool.
The capacity of a corporation to quickly implement new technology, generate and deliver digital content, and respond to seasonal shifts is referred to as agility. One of the most essential projects in eCommerce is agility, which enables quick digital fulfilment. Scaling is important to the achievement of agile transformation in digital company (Wallis et al., 2021). As a result, Tesco was unable to respond rapidly to the changing demands of its consumers. It's generally because they can't easily incorporate new technology into their current system, which makes it more difficult for them to penetrate the market. It's frequently because they can't easily incorporate new technology into their current system, making it more difficult for them to break into the market.
Mental health concerns in the workplace have become a problem for a long time, but the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated these issues. In the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, many working people are experiencing a sense of confusion. Tesco saw that its employees were under a lot of stress and decided to do something about it. With regard to employee mental health, Tesco has outlined three primary concerns (Barden and Giammarinaro, 2021). A supportive work environment, outstanding interventions and resources that colleagues and management know how to utilize, and the ability to react effectively when a coworker needs help are all important aspects of this. It is important for us to focus on the mental health of our employees in a number of ways. These include building a supportive work environment, using fantastic interventions and resources which colleagues and supervisors may utilize, and ensuring that we are all prepared to react successfully when a coworker needs our assistance. As part of Tesco Bengaluru's efforts to improve the well-being of its employees and their families, the company has introduced an integrated wellness program to assist emotional and physical well-being while employees work from home.
The COVID-19 outbreak ushered in a new age of global health concern. Recently, health care has undergone a sea change, with social isolation and digitalization being commonplace. The advantages of healthy lifestyles in preventing illness have also been well known. Tesco is dedicated to assisting its employees in leading healthier and more sustainable lives, so that they may perform at their peak at work and at home. The company's strategy has always been to increase awareness, inspire, and urge employees to take care of their own well-being as a top priority for them. Preventive measures and self-care strategies are the foundations of this program's approach, which also includes a variety of forms of organized assistance (Afsar, Masood, and Umrani, 2019). The overarching goal of the organization is to provide a superior workplace health program that any employee may use for assistance and self-determination in their personal health and well-being, Despite the company's best efforts to clean and maintain employee health, a large number of workers have come into contact with the virus, despite the company's best attempts to sanitize and preserve health. This year's pre-tax profit was 825 million pounds ($1.14 billion) compared to the previous year's profit of just over a pound. During the pandemic, Tesco says it engaged around 50,000 temporary employees, roughly 20,000 of whom had been hired permanently by the company (Gigauri, 2020). In addition, the company's expenditures for ensuring the safety of its outlets increased. Tesco's decision to return 585 million pounds in tax relief to the British government also had an impact on profits.
Tesco implements democratic leadership to deal with challenges, however, the firm can further adopt situational leadership and transformational owing to the pandemic of Covid-19.
As a result of the company's flat Organisational structure, Tesco is able to implement a democratic style of leadership. There is indication that Tesco's management and leadership approach has helped the company develop. Tesco is committed to helping its workers choose work schedules and benefits that work best for them. For any kind of strategic change, whether it be cultural needs, assistance for those with disabilities, or any other reason, management recognizes and attempts to be able to adapt (Lonar, 2017).When it comes to dealing with virtual working and the pandemic, transformational leadership theory may be used at Tesco. Business leaders must have the ability to motivate their employees to go above their job duties in order to create a high-performance workforce. Transformational leadership is one of several new notions of leadership that have developed as a consequence. Teams, divisions, departments, and even whole organizations may benefit from transformative leadership. These leaders are visionary, motivational, risk-taking, and bright thinkers (Trounson and Pfeifer, 2017). There is an air of charm about them. When it comes to altering the way a company runs, charisma alone is not enough. Transformational leaders at Tesco must demonstrate the following four characteristics to bring about significant change:
Inspirational Motivation: In order to be a transformative leader, one must communicate a clear vision, goal, and set of values to the team members. As a result, they have a clear idea of what they want from each and every engagement (Dirani et al., 2020). In order for followers to follow a transformational leader, they must be given a feeling of purpose and challenge. In the midst of the pandemic, they labor tirelessly to instill a sense of cooperation and devotion in their employees, which would help them deal up with the stress of the epidemic.
Intellectual Stimulation: Leaders that inspire their followers to think beyond the box have a positive effect on their employees' mental well-being. They urge their followers to come up with fresh ideas and never publicly condemn them for their blunders. As a result, leaders avoid blaming others and instead concentrate on the "what" of an issue. It's not a problem for them if an old practice they've been doing for a long time turns out to be unsuccessful.
Idealized Influence: When a leader teaches and does what he believes, they think that they can influence their followers. Leaders serve as role models for their followers (Eliyana and Ma’arif, 2019). As a result of their actions, these leaders are always seen as trustworthy and respected by their followers. They often put the needs of their followers ahead of their own, put their own interests ahead of those of their followers, and display high ethical standards. They utilize their authority to influence their subordinates to work together for the shared objectives of the company.
Individualized Consideration: Leaders treat their subordinates as mentees and praise them for being innovative and creative. According to their abilities and expertise, the disciples are given varied treatment (Budur, 2020). Their decisions are always supported by the necessary resources, making them feel empowered to act on their own. In order to effectively collaborate and work together in the Organisation, it is vital to understand the particular requirements of each person.
Leadership styles aren't all the same, according to the situational theory of leadership. When it comes to leadership and strategy, it all relies on the work at hand. Consequently, the situational leadership style is most suited for events like the pandemic (Top, Abdullah, and Faraj, 2020). With regard to the degree of competence and dedication of their staff, situational leaders may adjust their leadership style accordingly. Situational leadership is a kind of leadership that focuses on maximizing the potential of employees while still reaching business goals and deadlines. As a result, a leader who is skilled in transformational leadership is also a situational leader, able to cope with a variety of work-related situations. It is common knowledge that the best way to tackle a problem is by examining the potential effect that a possible solution may have. Therefore, Tesco leaders should analyze the situations and change their leadership according to the situation for effective people management and mitigating the challenges owing to the pandemic.
To sum up, In the context of Tesco Plc, a UK retailer, the aforementioned paper discusses two leadership challenges: "Leading and Managing Virtual Teams" and "Employee Wellbeing." As a result, transformational and situational leadership theories are used to address the issues of leadership. Tesco's frequent one-on-one meetings with each team member may be beneficial for staff who aren't dealing with customers directly. This is a good idea not just to keep them responsible for their job, but also to get a sense of how much work they will be doing and what kind of assistance they will need. To keep everyone on the same page and hold them responsible for their daily chores and contributions, it's a good idea to organise an informal group.
Managers must have one-on-one meetings with their subordinates on a weekly or quarterly basis. A pre-scheduled meeting might alleviate some of the tension that comes with a request for a meeting at the last minute. When it comes to developing a virtual team, collaboration is even more critical. In order to foster a feeling of belonging and familiarity amongst your team members, holding frequent video conference sessions is highly suggested. Managers should make it clear to their teams what they expect of them so that everyone is on the same page.
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(Akram et al., 2019)
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