Is your default leadership style on steroids right now? That’s what happens in a crisis – signature responses go into overdrive. However, if you let this continue, you do so at your peril.
Like opportunistic teenagers home alone and unaware of the risks, now is party time for your unchecked blind spots to wreak havoc. Do not to let this pandemic become the perfect breeding ground for collateral damage.
Your team needs you more than ever.
- Take Off Your Leadership Mask
Yes, you must convey a vision and drive for results. Yes, you must cultivate collaboration and demystify the data.
But first, meet people where they are. Otherwise, you risk coming across as cold, detached and out of touch.
Be transparent. Name the problems and issues quickly.
Ask your team, “What’s on your mind right now? What is important to you? Do you have what you need, and how can I help? How are things with you and your loved ones?”
Now is also the time to expressly debunk the myth that a leader needs to have all the right answers.
Sometimes, the best answer is the most honest one, “I don’t know right now. When I do, you will know too.”
The more you model authentic connection, the more your teams will pass it on to their own people.
- Show Trust In Your Team
Sure, you trust your people. But how do they experience this?
Unless you are intentionally conveying trust-based behaviours in the everyday, you are simply leaving to chance the most important foundation block for team success.
Patrick Lencioni, author of “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, urges, “Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”
Go first. Be vulnerable. Talk about your concerns and loved ones. Ask your people what they need to bring their best to this situation. This may mean the parents in your team mixing up their hours to fit around home schooling, or the morning lark starting early and finishing early.
Actively seek out ways to let your team know that you have their best interests at heart. Don’t leave trust to chance.
- Share Common Goals
Add a dispersed focus to a dispersed team and you’ll soon find yourself expending all the energy it takes to herd cats.
First, align on common objectives to maintain a sense of purpose and direction. What are your team’s priorities in this new normal?
Second, assuage that sense of overwhelm and anxiety by breaking down targets into bitesize pieces.
Bain & Co recommend daily five-minute meetings to review short-term priorities, track progress and triage critical issues. “Getting the team together in this way helps us focus on the metrics that matter… and helps us know where we should focus our energy.”
Third, keep sight of the bigger picture. Schedule a weekly meeting to focus exclusively on your team’s forward-looking thoughts. Ask, “What can we not afford to lose sight of? Is there anything that we have not yet considered that could be critical?”
- Inject Fun
Every elite athlete knows the importance of recovery time after a workout.
To get the best out of your team, spend some fun down time together each week. The only rule is that you cannot talk about work!
Teams around the world are posting on social media their meeting ideas: coffee with pets, Friday happy hour, mad hatter breakfast.
What’s yours to be?
- Take Care of Yourself
Look after your greatest asset – you.
You may be grappling with remote working, crunching numbers for the hundredth time, and the children think that because you’re home, it must be time to bake a cake together. It’s exhausting.
In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Covey instructs readers to “sharpen the saw”. This means keep yourself fresh so that you are able to do everything else.
Go for a power walk, be present with your loved ones, zone out with a video. What is it that you need to do for yourself?
Covid-19 presents an unprecedented challenge for leaders globally. By taking off your leadership mask, showing trust in your team, sharing common goals, injecting fun and taking care of yourself, you and your teams will not only survive this current crisis but emerge all the stronger for it.