How leaders deliver the passion of workers, even in the time of crisis: the leadership tips from CEOs of CoHive and Base

February 15, 2022

As a leader in the company, you probably want all employees to have the same frequency and passion as yours to achieve the same goal. However, it might be a challenge as the company gets bigger and faces a crisis. 

Yaumi Fauziah Sugiharta, the Co-Founder and CEO of Base, and Christopher Angkasa, with the familiar name “Chris”, the CEO of CoHive share their experiences on how they ignite the passion of employees and maintain it, even when the company faces the complex situation due to the pandemic. 

When Yaumi and the co-founder, Ratih Permata Sari, began to build Base, the vegan-based skincare brand, in 2020, they initiated an unorthodox way to recruit the team members. Besides finding people with the right skills who would fit into the company, they also assess the level of passion that the candidates have and how the employees might align their visions with the founders’.

“In an ideal situation, we would select for employees who have both passion and experience. As a growing company, we must keep pushing the boundaries to achieve greater heights. However, passion will fuel the growth faster. Passion also ignites curiosity and pushes us to think outside the box to create a bigger impact,” Yaumi said. 

Fortunately, most workers have the same passions as the founders. Although challenges will come as the company grows, the founders maintain their high spirits through communication and apply their values in the company. 

Unlike Base founders, Chris figured different and complex challenges when he became the CEO of Jakarta-based coworking space, CoHive, in December 2020. Like other hospitality service industries, the office rental market suffered as mobility was heavily restricted to curb the COVID-19 virus spread.

During the crisis, the team’s morale was severely impacted as the demand dried up. However, Chris did not give up on the situation. “When the ship faced the storm. It’s impossible to stop the storm, but we should check whether the ship construction was strong enough to run into the storm. During the pandemic, we couldn’t stop it, but we needed to find out whether our internal company was strong enough to face it,” Chris said.

Here are the essential points that leaders can learn from Christopher and Yaumi’s experiences on influencing and delivering the same passion to the workforces. 

Being communicative and transparent to all employees

It is essential to maintain communication with the team members in every situation, especially during a crisis, when morale and spirit are at a low point. Communication could take different forms, for instance, Chris communicates better through writing. Therefore, he often writes memos to the team every 2-3 months. These memos are helpful especially in larger companies, where information often gets diluted as it is passed along the chain of command.

He makes efforts to be transparent and truthful about the company’s situation. Oftentimes, the knowledge of uncertainty is passed along with the notes of encouragement. However, transparency is not without cost. Some team members will decide to move on, but it keeps the team focused. The team members that choose to remain are those who believe in the company and will fight for it. This will ensure that the team’s effort will be concentrated.

A similar treatment applies in Base; the founders keep two-way open communication to maintain the same page and passions among the employees. 

 “We maintain two-way open communication with all of the employees to better understand their personal career goals so we can provide the right pathways for them to explore their skills and experiences further in the company,” Yaumi said. 

Advocate humanity and create an impact on the company result 

Leaders should not always measure performance only by numbers to achieve the goal. However, enlivening humanity in work is crucial, so the workforces have the same passion for building the company. 

In Chris’s perspective, emotional fulfillment should exist in the work culture. He embeds it on all team members, especially the front-liners, to bring the impact of their work on both the internal team and the customers. For instance, they need to have empathy with how the customers use the space. That way, they can understand why cleanliness and tidiness contribute to customers’ effort. This understanding will help the team to be less reliant on formal SOPs to get the work done.

Similar things are also applied by the Base’s founders. They ensure that every employee contributes to creating an impact, not just on the business-side, but also on the society. 

The firm applies two important values in the work culture. First, the Eternal Students value encourages employees to ensure that every opinion matters, and they put learning to pursue personal growth on top of anything. 

“To be an eternal student, being humble is the key, and this is a major quality to be a great leader,” Yaumi said. 

The second value is Advocating Positivity, which is the foundation to create a joyful and progressive working environment. Thus, founders put themselves in others’ shoes to shape a collaborative, optimistic, enjoyable daily environment, as wellbeing is critically essential. 

Base also embraces Sustainability – Base’s sunscreen is safe for the ocean environment and coral-reef friendly. 

Prepare like a tiger

Although the pandemic has not ended, it does not mean that the team should wait and do nothing. Just like a tiger who waits, preparation is key to seizing opportunities. “A tiger does not wait passively to catch its prey. Its entire body and muscles are ready to pounce on the prey while it sneaks. At CoHive, we have to be active in preparing ourselves. No matter when the market recovers, we are waiting to seize the opportunities,” Chris said.

 At CoHive, preparation comes in the form of the decision to grow. For example, CoHive is investing in up-skilling the team members. Some of the training being done recently include product knowledge, commercial development, and community management.

He also emphasized that the co-working business does not only provide the space but also the community. Therefore, the team should understand the community and members, and add value. 

“When the right time comes, we will be prepared and ready, and the business will grow more robust,” he concluded.