A leader is accountable for multiple lives beyond their own. In troubled times, all eyes are on them to make the right call. How do you keep your drive going and innovate through the world’s pandemic territory, carrying a team with you?
Without their employees, a leader can achieve nothing. This makes it extremely important to have your people aligned with company propositions, purpose, and values. A strong leader has to open themselves up to their co-workers, with a willingness to show their vulnerability. The new world poses inherent uncertainties, and as a leader, you can’t expect to have all the answers. But, with your team’s support, you will be empowered to experiment and expand into avenues that were never on your radar, operating in a start-up mindset.
Good leaders agree that growth is still the primary business objective, but increasingly understand that the methods and mindsets to achieve growth have changed
Navigate The Ambiguity With Trust
Many are struggling to keep their business afloat in these uncharted waters, but a strong team who is confident about their leader can help navigate these ambiguities. With more teams collaborating on a virtual space, the risk of misunderstandings and misinterpretations of tasks, company policies, and business processes has increased. Overcommunication is a good principle — this can help in establishing ‘We are all in this together’, fostering a motivational environment that encourages exploration and developing innovative solutions.
Not only can this misunderstanding be frustrating, it’s also very costly: loss in productivity, reduced customer satisfaction, and unplanned downtime costs US and UK businesses $37 billion a year.
Now is the opportunity to pull out what you once planned on an Excel sheet and bring it to reality with a strong team. With an increased understanding of human behavior in the new world, one can map intervention areas for business development and dive in. Consumers are more open to sharing all their data for the greater good of society. Upskilling your employees to understand this better would be a great investment.
According to a Mckinsey Report, 87% business leaders reported skill gaps in their company.
Aligning The Purpose
Corporations were formed with the understanding that multiple people came together to operate for a singular purpose. This shifted to a more need based approach with a surge in the market, but even today the most resilient companies are the ones with a constant purpose. Google has been working with the purpose of ‘Organising the world’s information’ for years.
Today, with many working remotely, the need for a strong and relevant purpose becomes even more significant to align everyone in a singular direction and keep them going. Company hierarchy always creates a ‘you versus them’ situation between employees and the boss. Belief in a common cause encourages ownership and spurs motivation towards better outcomes. With a clear purpose, the team can be equipped to answer — What is most important right now? What might we be missing?
A quick metaphor to use is of articulating “the beach” — paint a picture of where you are headed and why it will be a worthwhile journey.
Position A Frananger
Leadership needs networks to disseminate tasks and operate in small groups for efficiency. One key position in this network is the friendly manager’s. A junior executive with a leadership skill set who is part of the crowd can create a medium between higher authorities and other employees.
This franager is trusted and is accessible, helping to avoid perplexing situations between the next check-in. One key quality for her is “deliberate calm,” the ability to detach from an overfraught situation and think clearly about how one will navigate it. The system makes sure everyone feels in control and also has the mandate to manage their own situation.
Bring In The People
Trust is inspired by credibility, reliability, and intimacy and now with our coworker’s kids, pets, and houses in the background of conferences, intimacy provide the best chance to establish trust. Now is the time to foster psychological safety among your team members and open healthy debates without any repercussions.
People need people. It is very difficult to now have a 15-minute ‘coffee machine chat’, creating room for online chat groups and 15-minute video calls to gossip. Encourage employees to manage their schedules and make their own breaks when required.
Establish a brisk cadence to encourage agility and accountability. Being too rigid about the timing or order of certain phases can quickly quash team engagement — if phases have to be ultra-quick, people may contribute too superficially; too long, and teams lose momentum.
Tools, guidance, and structure are an integral part of any good business practice, but overly prescribed processes restrict innovation.
Our simple checklist to go:
TRUST: Everyone is dedicated and excited about their work
TONE: Over communicate to add subtext and avoid gaps
TOLERANCE: Think twice before clicking send
This can help establish healthy communication and ease anxiety amongst the team members. Once your team can align on these fundamentals, the next step is to prioritize work-life balance and behave like an accountable adult. Always remember — Happiness is key to a good team.
Written by Nishita Karun
Illustration by Nicholas Pegu