Upsales had the honour of discussing leadership with Dmytro Yarmak - the ex-enterprise agile coach whose life changed overnight.

In this webinar, we learn how Dmytro's primary responsibilities shifted from leading IT teams and organisational transformations to leading combat tasks successfully after the invasion of Kyiv.

Read on to hear more about Dmytro's story - and how his previous career helped him choose the best leadership style amidst war.

Top Three Takeaways

Due to the chaos and complexity of the situation, Yarmak focused on acting and reacting rather than creating a large complex plan.

As the situation stabilised, Yarmak utilised several organisational tools and delegation to improve organisation and productivity.

Communication and clarity are essential, regardless of the work situation.

In times of chaos, it is much easier to plan on a day-by-day basis

As Yarmak explains in the webinar, the situation in Ukraine was incredibly chaotic, with changes coming through every thirty minutes or so.

While other leaders struggled with keeping their plans in place due to all of the constant changes, Yarmak focused more on a day-to-day plan for his team, attempting to be fluid to the situation.

“In March 2022, there was literally no plan,” he explains. “After that, we planned per day, even many months down the line.”

He also remembers one vivid example of where this occurred.

“Once, at 6:30 am, I received a text that said In 30 minutes, give me two people that will go for explosives expert training,” Yarmak explains. “I asked how they thought this would be possible, given the decision is life-changing, but they said they did not care.”

However, Yarmak decided to use his better judgment, ignoring the 30-minute deadline and instead finding two guys who actually wanted to be explosives experts.

Over time, it was important to move from reacting to acting

However, Yarmak knew that this form of reactive management would not be suitable in the long term. He needed to pivot the team towards a more proactive approach.

To do this, he decided to enable leadership on every level.

This approach helped Yarmak provide clarity for his team, create a psychologically safe environment, and raise competence, which all helped his team become much more effective.

Yarmak utilised organisational tools like Google Sheets and Trello to help, allowing his teams to keep track of their jobs and greatly reducing the number of missed deadlines.

Clarity and proper communication

Yarmak quickly realised how much value there was in communication and clarity. To achieve this in times of war, he ensured there were always two daily checkups with his teams, planned weekly visits to each platoon, and every platoon member had his contact number if needed.

“Instead of focusing on control, we focused on trust and learning,” Yarmak explains.

How did Yarmak motivate his team of newly formed leaders?

It’s all well and good, offering leadership and clarity to your team, but it means very little without motivation.

So, how did Yarmak overcome this hurdle, given that most of his staff were unhappy to be there?

Rather than following the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ approach to motivation, Yarmak decided to focus on a slightly different approach.

Instead, Yarmak focused on intrinsic motivational factors, such as better skills, job authority, and contributing to something bigger than ourselves.

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