Today, we are looking to our leaders to provide clarity, calm, and direction. The more change and disruption we face, the more leadership is required. Leading during uncertain times requires leaders to approach each day and interaction with the following tips in mind:
- People first. At the heart of an organization is its people. During uncertain times your teams, employees, and customers are watching your actions as a leader. Here are a few ways to put your people first:
- Are my people and their families safe? Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Basic needs like food, shelter, and safety are at the foundation. Then we move up to relationships, belonging, and achievements before we can reach self-actualization. Make sure your team has a solid foundation and feels a sense of belonging before asking them to focus on business needs.
- Listen. Understand their fears and challenges. Many leaders are great problem solvers, now is the time to really listen to what others are sharing with you. Sometimes individuals need to process emotions, feelings, issues and are not looking for you to fix their problem. If you take the time to listen, you will learn more about your employees, team members. Make sure you are listening for understanding and not just quickly responding with a solution.
- Create an environment that allows your people to tend to their families first and continue to deliver the needs of the business.
- Be flexible.
- Be patient.
- Be available
- Provide clear direction. Your team is looking to you to provide clear direction. If you don’t communicate the direction, it is hard for a team to deliver results.
- Clarity about priorities and expectations becomes paramount. Take every opportunity to set or reset expectations and priorities for your team. They want to be working on the right items, so help them be successful.
- A leader must still be thinking long-term but the focus, direction, priorities, and expectations for your people will be short-term focused. Remember that your team is working on the day-to-day objectives and tasks, they may be living in the details. Your job is to keep focused on the long-term and supporting your team as they are delivering on the short-term expectations.
- If your direction, priorities, and expectations are clear on a day-to-day basis you still can and should hold people accountable. When we lack accountability, we lose momentum and others on the team may become frustrated. Accountability is asking individuals to deliver on their commitments to each other, the team, and the organization.
- Communicate often. During times of uncertainty, you can’t over communicate. Remember that we need to hear the same message multiple times before we really hear what you are communicating. If you are not communicating, think about the message that you are sending.
- Make each communication count. Be intentional. Have a clear communication objective. What will be different after your communication? What do you want your people to think, to feel, to do as a result of your communication?
- Morning Huddle: Start the day by understanding the pulse of your people and adjust, advise, direct accordingly. These meetings set the tone for the rest of the day, make sure that you are celebrating the successes and removing obstacles your team is facing. Coach your team on what information you need from them in order to make the right decisions. Even with all of the uncertainty right now, you can still have these morning huddles virtually to check in with your team.
- Encourage questions and feedback. Create a sense of team, collaboration, and “we are in this together.” People want to feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves. An activating message is the balance of persuasion (logic and data), motivation (what’s in it for your audience) and inspiration (the bigger picture, greater good).
During uncertain times, we are looking for a leader that puts others first, can provide clear direction, and communicates in a way that builds alignment to support the greater good. Ultimately a leader’s effectiveness will be determined by whether or not they demonstrated “good, sound judgment” in their decision making during this critical time. Take every opportunity to Lead to the Max!SM
Written By: Mike Bivens and Jennifer Maxson