We’ve all been gripped by the unfolding news of the Coronavirus(Covid-19) that is rapidly making its way around the world. The situation is incredibly fluid but the global impact is becoming more and more evident.
How this will ultimately affect us individually, locally, regionally and globally is uncertain. But it will undoubtedly affect us all in some way over the coming months and beyond. Whether you live with the worry that you or someone you know is in the more vulnerable category for the virus’ effects, or you’re impacted by the economic downturn that is already taking its toll in some industries and businesses – it all makes for stressful times.
As leaders, don’t underestimate how much we can all contribute to our teams and the people we’re responsible for right now. It doesn’t have to be the big heroic leadership gestures either, sometimes a small act of kindness or consideration can make a huge difference to the people around you depending on what they need in that moment.
There are things we can all do as leaders to support and guide the people we’re responsible for over the coming months. This might be for your team at work, or for your team at home. Here’s my top 5 suggestions, and what I’m trying to work on right now for the Winsborough team too:
- Communicate – share as much as you can as often as you can. Be proactive and open about what’s going on, nothing creates more uncertainty and distress than an information vacuum. Start a regular email update or meeting (whatever frequency feels right) to keep your team informed, and keep it going even if you feel there’s nothing new to share.
- Involve others – you might think taking on all the responsibility for how to respond takes the burden off others, but being involved gives people a sense of control and this reduces a lot of anxiety. And the bonus is you’ll get a wider range of ideas for what to do next. Ask people frequently what they think about the situation and how they think your team could respond to whatever issues and challenges you’re currently facing.
- Be flexible – everyone’s work lives, personal lives, anxiety levels and context is going to be unique. Be open to what people need and exploring alternate ways of working with them to support their ability to help them keep delivering. Ask individuals what they’re most concerned about, and what they need to keep delivering and be prepared to be flexible to make it work.
- Make decisions – because the situation is so ambiguous, your team will really appreciate your ability to provide clear direction. Trust your judgement, don’t expect to get everything right, but don’t wait in the hope the answer will be revealed. Make a call about what you want or expect from your team, every day if necessary, and be sure to communicate this clearly and quickly.
- Provide perspective – we’re all absorbing the dramatic news headlines, and it’s natural for anxiety and a tendency to think the worst. Acknowledge people’s concerns and issues, be empathetic, but also help provide perspective. Make sure you’re well informed so your team are too, and acknowledge effort and achievements more so now than ever.
These are unique times and the way forward is an unknown quantity. It is however, absolutely the right time for each of us to do what we can as leaders in our own way. To contribute in whatever meaningful way we can, big and small. To lead the people around us at work and at home through what’s going to be, frankly, a tough period.
One of the things we’re noticing at Winsborough is a significant increase in questions about how to get a team working together (virtually) to step-up to the challenges being faced. We’ll post some blogs on this soon. If you need help getting the best out of your team or supporting the people in it to stay resilient and deliver at their best, we’re here to help.
You can find more Leadership Resources that we've put together to help you through the Covid-19 pandemic here