The first rule of thumb is to be a leader first and a manager second. Some people can be effective and efficient as both, but during times of uncertainty, people need a leader. Many of you have been thrown into this situation over the past few months. Your employees need to know how the business will keep operating. If you don’t have all the answers, communicate and demonstrate to them how you’re working to figure out the rest.
So how do effective leaders lead during times of adversity? Here are eight tips to consider to help you bring order to chaos.
Communicate and connect
Build trust with your employees with regular communication. Foster warmth and support to be seen as a credible source of information. Tell them what you know. Tell them what you don’t know and tell them when you think you’ll know. Uncertainty creates anxiety and silence can be interpreted as bad news. Be the resource that they need so they don’t create their own narration to fill the void. Let them know the big picture.
Do this to keep your team proactive instead of reactive. Think in terms of both the short term and long term. Your team will focus on opportunities instead of roadblocks. Ask your employees for input and really listen to what they have to say. Many people want and need to be heard during times of crisis. Your employees will talk and it’s always better to have them talking to you about opportunities instead of complaining behind the scenes.
Now is the time to look at the situation realistically and how can you best weather the storm. Explain where you are and explore options that help your business run effectively and efficiently.
Your natural reaction to adversity may be to look inwards, but great leaders resist that impulse. Look outward to your employees and all your stakeholders. Gather their insight to make better decisions for your business. Keep the lines of communication flowing in both directions. This will help you know when to make adjustments.
Encourage idea exchanges and build a culture of openness.
Stay positive and build optimism
This isn’t the time to have your rose-colored glasses on; great leaders know and accept the seriousness of the situation. Communicating openly and honestlybuilds credibility to create an open, authentic and optimistic vision forward.
Confidence in you as the leader is crucial during times of adversity. Your team may not know the direction forward, but they need to know that you are working on a solution. As the leader, you need to exude confidence to help build trust.
Great leaders approach challenges with perseverance and focus. You need to see tasks through to completion while maintaining your high-performance standards. You are the role model to build the collective resilience for your team. If you project calmness and optimism, your employees will be more at ease.
Run effective meetings
Use the right tools to make sure your virtual meetings run smoothly. In this day and age, there are so many tools to help you stay connected. Make sure your meetings are effective by having a focus and agenda. It can be more difficult to run a virtual meeting, so it is very important to be prepared and stay on point.
Create order from chaos
Cut through the clutter of conflicting data, information and opinions. Focus on the areas that need immediate attention and redirect resources to those areas. Develop a plan and communicate that plan. This will create a path moving forward so your business isn’t crippled by indecision.
Training is often put on the back burner due to time constraints. During this pandemic, many businesses are unable to conduct business as usual. Use this time to build the skillsets of your employees. This will position your company for the future and help build the morale and confidence of your employees. Many universities provide online business courses. You can also contact your trade group or search online for training classes.
Your job is to be the rock for your company, employees and all the stakeholders. We realize it is difficult to conduct business during this unprecedented time, but we’re here to help. Please contact Outlook Business Solutions if you would like help determining your path forward during this time of uncertainty.