These times are not easy for any of us. Uncertainty makes planning and decision making very hard, however, through all of human history good leadership always makes a difference.
As a starting point we reflect that the whole point of leadership is that it exists for the benefit of others. As leaders we need to think about the benefit of the teams, organisations and nations we lead. In a recent blog we highlighted the value of communicating, involving others, staying flexible, making decisions and keeping perspective.
To build on this, we have some collated practical tips on leadership teams, based on our experience doing real work with teams in the military, construction, business and government, all based on a solid evidence base:
- Gain and maintain really good situational awareness. The situation clearly has changed. What are the key factors defining your environment and context? What do your key stakeholders need from you? Refocus, re-prioritise and communicate.
- Develop scenarios: (what the military call ‘war-gaming’) that map decision paths as circumstances change. In crisis people look to leaders to act and demonstrate judgement.
- Communicate: which is a two-way process. Listen and empathise with people, but do not flinch from being transparent and sharing what is known.
- Share the load: Leadership isn’t about heroically shouldering all of the load. Involving ideas from your people builds commitment. Know the capability of your team members and utilise them well.
- Things will be different: relationships may be strained. As best as you can - pause, step back, take three deep breaths, zoom out, appreciate that we are all navigating unprecedented times, step back in and be your best self.
Moving to Virtual
As we move in to working situations that will be unfamiliar to many, here are a few thoughts that may help leaders to navigate these times...
Connect and communicate more often with your team. In the absence of face-to-face contact, we can miss cues and skip social niceties. It’s important to spend time to allow for more roundabout conversations, in order to build a shared awareness about the team situation: be clear, well informed and empathetic to individual team member’s needs.
Virtual meetings allow us to stay connected, however they still need to add value; ensure people are clear about the agenda and especially the outcome. Take the time to check in with everyone after the meeting to ensure their actions are well understood and they feel able to deliver. Since online meetings take extra time, allow time, and critically, look to set a good cadence that meets the team’s needs.
In the virtual world accountabilities and actions can get blurred. Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams or Basecamp help keep the team on track and in touch. Review and be clear about how decision making happens.
Be patient and be kind. The range of people’s access to technology is going to have an impact. Focus on the things you can control.
You can find more Leadership Resources that we've put together to help you through the Covid-19 pandemic here