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Leading in uncertain times

Mar 26, 2020 | Effective leaders, Team cohesion

The role of the leader has never been more important than it is right now in this time of great uncertainty.  The truth is, your people are looking to you to lead them through these turbulent waters.  They will remember how you handle this situation far more than they’ll remember how you handled ‘business as normal’ in times gone by.  The moment is now for you and for me to step up and be the leaders our spheres of influence need us to be.

Last week I spoke about the importance of clarity around six critical areas as you lead your teams virtually.   This week I want to talk about the essential role of building connection with your team.

Your team needs you to build connection with them now more than ever.  In the face of so much uncertainty, they need to know you that you care and that you are there for them.  Here are two ways you can do this:

1. Be real.

Being real means being transparent.  Let your team know what is going on with you personally and with the organisation, as far as you reasonably can.  Leaders have a tendency to keep their cards close to their chest, but now is not the time.  Err on the side of transparency rather than on the side of secrecy.

It’s quite ok to say, “I don’t know what is going to happen, but I do know that we’re in this together and I am going to do my best for this team and for this organisation.”

Being real means being vulnerable.

Vulnerability breeds trust and trust is the foundation for great teams.  Being vulnerable means admitting that you don’t have all the answers, that you too might be struggling with the challenges of, for example, the loneliness that might come with working from home or finding loo roll in the shops!

Being real means taking a risk and talking to your people about things you’ve never spoken to them about before…whether that’s talking to them about how their own parents might be handling the isolation or about what they are doing to help their kids alleviate boredom.  Show them that you’re interested, that they aren’t just employees but PEOPLE first.

2. Be persistent.

In other words, step up the communication.  Constantly be reaching out, sharing information, checking in with them and seeing how they’re doing, really doing.

My advice to you would be to get your team together daily via Skype, Zoom or some other method where they can HEAR your voice.  Emails are great but in a time like this, they are just not good enough.  And then at least once a week, pick up the phone and call each team member for a one-to-one chat…not to talk about work although that may well form part of the conversation, but to see how they are doing.

I appreciate you may not have the time, but I am emphatically encouraging you… you cannot afford to not make the time for this.  By being persistent, you will buy the loyalty of your team members which is absolutely priceless.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your team will grow tired of you reaching out. 

They won’t, certainly not if you’re doing it with the intention of building connection with them.  Yes, you have your own challenges right now, I don’t want to ignore that.  But you are not a leader for nothing, you are a leader for a time such as this.  It’s time to push ourselves out of our comfort zones otherwise we are not going to be the kind of leaders that our people need us to be right now.

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