People-First Leadership: Shock, Transition, Transformation


In Navigating Change in Crisis, we explore how individuals and companies are adapting to a “new normal” in order to keep essential services functioning. We provide actionable advice around how organizations, and ultimately the builders of data and analytic apps, are adapting to meet these changes. These insights aim to help you and your team navigate these unprecedented times.

There’s more on the line today than ever before — for people, businesses, and their leaders. A steady hand navigating uncharted waters is a must. Leaders who prioritize people first can mean the difference between success and failure.

In the COVID era, human connections have become even more vital. People-first leadership means bringing positivity to a world where we are all experiencing countless challenges. This leadership style can lead to increased productivity, performance, employee retention, and an overall positive work culture.

In our recent Sisense webinar, People-First Leadership During a Crisis: Shock, Transition and Transformation, Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, joined Amir Orad, Chief Executive Officer at Sisense, and Nurit Shiber, Chief People Officer at Sisense, to discuss the keys to building a robust people-first leadership strategy when companies are faced with new and unexpected challenges. 

Managing during crisis: Focusing on the human

People-first leadership means acknowledging that we are all human and experiencing a generation-defining trauma right now, regardless of position. Being honest and transparent about what’s happening throughout the business is essential.

Successful leaders understand that during a crisis it’s crucial to be: 

  • Human
  • Optimistic yet Realistic
  • Vulnerable
  • Empathetic
  • Decisive

“As leaders, we can share that we are going through these challenges as well. For example, everyone has experienced a bad wifi connection and it’s easy to feel embarrassed. But it’s important to remember that it’s ok because it’s showing a vulnerability that we all have and are experiencing.”

 Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight

Become the “Chief Empathy Officer”

As a people-first leader, your job isn’t to be the “Chief Cheerleader” but to understand that everyone has unique situations and perspectives. Being empathetic about where your people are at right now is key to your success as a leader. You have to be conscious of how you deliver information and how people perceive it. Emphasizing the need for your workers to engage in self-care and leading by example is necessary for the future of the business. 

“We owe it to our customers and employees to give our best, so we need to be successful at balancing extreme work/not extreme work. For our sanity, we implemented ‘Self-Care’ days across the company to balance the extreme work efforts that Sisensers naturally obtain, so we don’t burn ourselves out.”

Amir Orad, CEO at Sisense

Balance your decisions and consider key trade-offs

With people’s wellbeings and livelihoods at stake, it’s important to understand the “trade-off” of being empathetic, while still setting your company up for business success with extra preparation. Having open discussions with your management team on how to push their teams to perform at their highest potential, while being cognizant of the personal issues that everyone might be dealing with is important.

“The trade-offs are always challenging because what’s at stake is people’s livelihoods, long-term and short-term success, and balancing people’s well being and health without being overburned with what’s going on.”

Amir Orad, Chief Executive Officer at Sisense

Maximizing performance during crisis

Understanding that there are things you can and can’t control is crucial in times of crisis. While you can control the quality of presentations, the amount of outreach, and the research and preparation going into demos, you can’t control your customers’ and prospects’ new decision processes post-COVID-19.

“We’re doing more account reviews, more celebration of the pipeline, and more all-around around preparation to set ourselves up for success post-COVID-19.”

Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight

Shifting focus: Finding new ways to give back

When approaching new initiatives in the COVID-era, shifting energy to focus on ways you can help your customers survive, and new ways to connect with them in this new reality is vital. With more companies using analytics to pivot during the pandemic, Sisense has taken the initiative to offer a COVID-19 relief package for customers. 

“During the COVID-era, we have shifted more energy into thinking about the community and helping institutions fight COVID with free products and offerings.”

Amir Orad, Chief Executive Officer at Sisense

Focusing on the future and innovation, while adapting to the present, starts with people-first leadership. To strive and thrive in times of crisis you need to balance your company’s need for financial durability with a focus on the health and well being of your employees and maintaining customer-obsession.

For more tips on people-first leadership during crisis, watch the full on-demand webinar.

Nurit Shiber leads our organizational strategy, operations and developing our people and culture. Previously, Nurit was the VP of Human Resources at NICE Actimize where she helped double the employee base worldwide while building strong leadership and organizational foundations. Nurit is best known for cultivating strong company culture, building human-centric people functions and building teams to help companies scale.