Leading through change: How to guide your organization in times of crisis.
Even in the worst of times, strong organizations thrive with nimble leaders. And in the current landscape, where nearly every industry has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn, agility as a leader has never been more important.
There’s no blueprint for what lies ahead. But the way you lead through it will set the tone for your team and the work you do. That’s where you can truly find leverage: with intentional leadership strategies, you’ll be able to move forward with confidence no matter the crisis. Here’s what to consider as you and your team lead your organization through change.
Share information with transparency.
Connecting with clarity and transparency is essential in a time of uncertainty. Afraid you’re overcommunicating or over-sharing? Don’t be. Proactive, transparent communication with your team about how things are going and what you plan to do is crucial. Forbes revealed how communicating with transparency solves problems faster, unites teams closer and increases performance from everyone.
When you intentionally share information with your employees, you model what thorough communication looks like. Especially if your organization now has a remote workforce and can’t convene in large groups, direct communication matters more than ever. Try opening up for questions in your team meetings. You may not have all the information they’d like, and your report may be the same week after week, but employees will appreciate knowing where they stand.
Providing the answers you do have shows your team that you’re present to respond to their concerns. And you’re showing employees they can trust you to deliver the latest updates in a timely way, which can lessen anxiety and stop speculation in its tracks.
Act with compassion and put people first.
Financial moves that may have previously served your company well may not be ideal in an uncertain landscape. A recent survey by the public relations firm Edelman indicates that 71% of respondents said they would lose trust in a brand forever if they believed it was putting profits before people. Consider how you treat your employees could impact your sales and revenue.
And on a narrower scale, compassion in the little things matters too. In today’s crisis, many aspects of your employees’ lives have been turned upside down. Stress levels are high, and anxiety is common. So be compassionate and understanding. Appreciate the sacrifices they make and show them you care through your actions.
Swap perfectionism for creativity and order.
Risk and ambiguity increase during a crisis because of all the unpredictability ahead. Many leaders fall into this common trap: craving control and needing to be perfect. These can be drivers of excellence in calmer seasons but can stunt progress in times of chaos. During a crisis, perfectionism can be a problem.
The solution is to seek order and creativity rather than control. Order means your team knows what is expected of them, and what they can expect of others. Creativity means you have space to try new tactics within an uncertain environment.
Throwing out perfectionism may require you to challenge your “slow and steady” instincts. When your organization is ready to make changes and make them quickly, don’t hesitate to take the next step. As you communicate with your customers and your team, take action and do it quickly for the benefit of everyone.
Take a broad view and play the long game.
Leaders often love the adrenaline boost of a quick win. But leading through change and crisis is exactly the opposite. In times of challenge, leaders need to intentionally pull back and move towards meta-leadership, taking a broad, holistic view of both obstacles and opportunities.
This wide view can reveal your most pressing jobs as a leader. It can also help you see what you can effectively delegate and shed light on emerging talent within your team — people who are poised to lean in during this season of change. By looking through this wide lens, you’re poised to lead your company beyond the crisis towards a brighter future.
Your leadership skills make an impact on your team, whether in crisis or not. The average organization could be 50% more productive with optimal leadership practices, according to studies by Ken Blanchard Companies. So just imagine: if your leadership is that much more impactful in good times, it could make all the difference in a time of crisis.
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