Being a better leader during a crisis
Any leader who will successfully guide their organization through turbulent waters must design their role in the way that works best for them and their team members. This can be a tremendously liberating realization, freeing them from false expectations that there’s a right or wrong way to be a CEO, director, or senior leader—and giving them permission to lean into their superpowers.
The key here is to be keenly aware of your superpowers and play disproportionately to those strengths. Surrounding yourself with trusted people to whom you can delegate responsibilities that aren’t in line with your core strengths is often priority number one. And building a high-performing team of diverse, complementary superpowers usually comes next.
When you’re growing your business, you likely have a lot of goals you want to achieve and projects on your plate. A significant challenge for any leader is prioritizing the work in process to guarantee their team (and they themselves) aren’t overwhelmed. Further, if an individual or a single team is pulling in too many directions at once, they’re likely to go nowhere fast.
Setting long-term and ambitious goals is important for growth, but it can seem overwhelming. Take those goals and break them down into short-term, manageable ones so that you can continue to be motivated by seeing progressive, tangible achievements. Prioritization should include a mix of fully achievable (that is, 10% or less uncertainty) and stretch (that is, 25 to 50% uncertainty) goals.
Segment your priorities into three categories: financial, quality (of your products/services and the experience you are creating for your employees and clients), and strategic. By balancing short-term and long-term activities, you can guarantee continuous improvement in all key areas. Measure weekly progress, adjust timelines as needed, and monitor your overall stress and well-being.
Goal achievement is both emotional and logical. Each day, assess the top five priorities that “feel” necessary to conquer. Also assess the top five priorities that make the most sense logically. They don’t always align, so it helps to have this internal dialogue daily. Solicit insight from trusted colleagues occasionally if the tension feels irreconcilable.
Leaders and managers are being asked to adapt and evolve like never before. To emerge with an evolved culture, an engaged workforce, and a strong talent pipeline, leaders at all levels will need to engage their personal authenticity. A leader who is honest, creates conditions that allow their employees to be who they truly are, and provides an environment that brings some comfort.
Leaders who show their real and genuine selves to others at work build stronger bonds of trust. This provides the fuel to power their teams to tackle thorny issues with transparency. Navigating times of change requires faith in others that are guiding them through unknown waters. To retain your staff and lead a WFH workforce, leaders cannot be seen as just blindly accepting the company’s rhetoric.
Authentic leadership is a significant predictor of an employee’s job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and workplace happiness. Authentic leaders embrace their unique leadership style. Whether naturally extroverted and charismatic or introverted with low-key charm and grace, leaders are most successful when they own their style and build a team around them that complements it.
Leaders should communicate clearly and often in times of strife. Explain in plain language the facts as you know them. Describe what decisions were made, and why, and how. Talk of your organization’s values, and your own values. Discuss what you expect to happen next, without overpromising. Explain what you don’t know yet, but hope to learn.
It is not possible to bear the weight of supporting those on your team when you are not supporting yourself. A daily commitment to self-care in the form of exercise, art, mindfulness, and/or prayer can help keep you healthy and mentally fit. Make an effort to talk of the things that are weighing on you with those who are not themselves struggling. Recognize when you are beginning to suffer burnout.
Leading with empathy, changing how we do what we do, how we make people feel, working together… As we reach a critical mass of allies, we create stronger and happier workplaces, companies, and industries, together. When you’re ready, take action to lead change in your work, on your team(s), and in your workplace. Transform your organization, industry, and society.