Leadership is a driving force for companies to achieve success and recognition through employees’ motivation toward goals and accomplishments.
When employees are relatively content due to job security, pay, benefits, etc., they are motivated to reach their goals. They also feel that they are integral parts of an effective team, which enhances their performance. However, this positive morale is easily shattered when a disaster takes place.
Today, due to the pandemic’s title wave of damage, leadership faces its most perilous challenge yet. While leaders are paramount to an organization’s survival, they are now facing an unpredictable workforce and more than ever before, uncooperative — even sabotaging — responses to their leadership.
How has the Pandemic Affected Your Leadership?
Leadership permeates through all aspects of an organization, from the CEO’s vision, through senior leadership, directors, managers and frontline leads.
For leaders, the first test you face during a crisis is not a leadership test, it is a human test.”
Are you personally able to survive the huge toll the crisis is taking on you? Can you turn on a dime, not just once, but multiple times? Do you understand the psychology of transformational processes enough to surrender to organic changes in yourself and your organization’s culture? Can you help shape a new normal during accelerated and chaotic change? What will you use as guiding principles to navigate massive changes that put you in completely unfamiliar territory?
If you cannot pass the “human test”, meaning how you are getting through crisis personally – then it will be difficult for you to transform crisis into opportunity in your organization.
The best leaders have powerful inner strength and conviction. And they didn’t develop these positive attributes in a vacuum. Being forced into building a stronger inner core is, in fact, the collateral beauty that comes from tragedy and devastation.
When everything seems like its falling apart and you are struggling to hold yourself and your team together, seek collateral beauty by focussing on building inner strength in these areas:
- Increase Supportive Activities: Identify what get’s you through difficult times and do more of those things. If taking walks helps; take more walks. If quiet time is important; find more quiet time. If talking to someone feels supportive; talk more. Supportive activities lay a foundation that help you thrive during challenging times.
- Learn What Other Leaders are Doing: Read, listen to podcasts, talk with colleagues to get other leader’s perspectives on how they are coping. Use times of crisis to learn more about resilience and how to lead your teams through a successful transformation. Gain confidence in your leadership by developing advanced skills.
- Minimize Actions that Make Things Worse: Deescalate rather than escalate panic, stay as grounded and mindful as possible. Resist falling into bad habits. Meet every challenge with all of you: mind, heart, body and soul and a wholehearted intention to succeed.
- Build Leadership Stamina: Use your intention to declare who you want to become as a leader. For example, “I will be a source of strength and a voice of reason for my team throughout this challenging time.” When we set intentions, we clarify who we want to become. We create a map that leads us toward our vision.
Adopt a Human to Human Leadership Model
Passing the human test shows that you are personally capable of leading through crisis and setting your organization on course for even greater success.
Advanced leadership skills in times like this will be crucial to navigating through difficult terrain and carrying your organization to new horizons.
The following five “master questions” will serve as guiding principles to take your team to new heights. They’re based on a human-to-human (or people) model for leading – one in which leaders form deeper connections with all stakeholders through better understanding, empathy and inspiring actions.
Master Question #1: Do you provide a sense of belonging to your team?
Does the work place have an accepting environment where each member feels valued and challenged to grow, or are people just going through motions with little passion in their day-to-day lives during this time of crisis?
Feelings that promote success include feeling connected both individually as well as collectively – seeing one another succeed not provides a sense of hope but also inspires others.
Fostering a sense of belonging and showcasing successes are simple steps to hold your team together when they are facing radically altered work experiences during times of crisis.
Master Question #2: Does your team trust you?
How would you describe the relationship between yourself and your team?
A strong leader understands that in order to get things done, they need an effective group of employees who are ready take on any challenge with confidence.
How much does each member of your team trust your leadership abilities or judgment when making decisions? Does your team seem hesitant about offering input because it could put them at risk if something goes wrong?
Does this situation sound familiar: “I feel like my voice doesn’t matter,” or have others expressed similar fears or sentiments? Not being heard is one of the most common fears in business. And, when people are afraid to speak up for fear their opinion won’t count or that you will make them look bad it creates an environment where everyone feels uncomfortable speaking freely.
If this sounds familiar then there is work ahead on gaining trust from your team who don’t know how much you value each person bringing his/her unique perspective – until now!
Master Question #3: Are you a good role model for being human?
As a leader, it is important to be honest and transparent with your team. When sharing doubts or vulnerabilities you should maintain confidence so that people respect how you are navigating uncertain times.
You will need to balance uncertainty and confidence in order to show your team members that they can depend on what you say, even if it means showing vulnerability! This type of honesty often leads teams towards feeling more connected than ever before; creating opportunities where one might step up in support during difficult times as well as eliciting a team spirit which makes adversity much easier to face together.
Master Question #4: Do you value innovation?
Creative, innovative thinking is a fundamental tenet of any organization, yet the spirit of innovation within a team is not an easy thing to come by. It requires great dedication and hard work, but the payoff is worth it in terms of higher morale, greater energy and resilience for everyone involved!
In fact, most leaders consider innovation their greatest resource, one that has an especially big role in times of crisis – when you’re trying to get through challenges that seem impossible at first glance.
The creative process of brainstorming and coming up with new solutions can empower your group in ways that allow them to work together as one unit while staying true to their individual identities within the organization.
Master Question #5: Are you embracing collaboration?
When you add competition to crisis, your team may just crumble. Addressing the culture of competition is one way that human-to-human leaders can make an impactful difference in their organizations.
By transforming from a group that thrives on winning at all costs into collaborative beings who prioritize working together as teammates over competing against each other professionally, organizations gain strength.
Collaboration has been proven time after again to be the backbone of teamwork, leadership and team cohesion. Whether during times where there are no crises or needing to successfully move through crisis, collaboration is a superior approach.
A collaborative approach creates greater engagement amongst team members so that workflows don’t shut down, deadlines are kept and goals are met.
Thriving In Unpredictability
The world has changed. There is no denying that the pandemic has had a profound effect on all of us, and it is changing how we view leadership in general.
Many leaders are feeling uncertain about how to lead during this time — but there’s an opportunity in this crisis. What does this mean for you? It means that now more than ever, as a leader, you must evolve and lead your team using a human to human leadership model.
The pandemic will spotlight areas to grow the most. It will require you to first pass the human test in terms of being able to personally survive this crisis. It will shine a light on how open your heart is and whether you can really connect and guide your team through stages of transformation that can only come from the collapse we are now facing. You will be called to navigate in unfamiliar territory.
If you pass the human test, all you need is to increase leadership skill in the areas I mentioned above. Foster belongingness, be transparent about your vulnerabilities while maintaining a sense of confidence, earn trust from your team, embrace and accelerate the use of innovation and switch from competition to collaboration if you haven’t already done so.
We Were Born for This Time
I believe we were born for this time. Every single one of us, whether we are leaders or not, play an important role in making the world a better place through developing first our human potential and, if we’re called to leadership, becoming profound leaders who connect deeply with people.
This is what’s needed most now; We can come together and face our challenges with heart while evolving into stronger humans, leaders and organizations!