Leading in uncertain times…
Many people will be looking to leaders, for some hope and inspiration, to get them through these uncertain times ahead.
According to Gallop, what people primarily need in their leader, is a clear path forward. If we have this, then as human beings we are amazingly resilient, known as the ‘rally effect’. During extraordinary times like this pandemic, it becomes even more important for leaders to clearly communicate this path and then to inspire confidence in their workforce to get through this difficult period by working as a team. You do not need to be overly optimistic or unrealistic, but you do need to give hope and encouragement.
In times of panic, it is easy to micromanage. To show trust, give your staff more autonomy rather than less and encourage them to see the bigger picture. By showing faith in them, it will allow them to help you come up with the best solutions. When times are tough, people are afraid of losing their jobs. This fear often prevents them from freely making suggestions and observations that might lead to improved outcomes, as they don’t want to rock the boat. If you want to motivate your employees and get the best out of them, you need to make them feel safe rather than fearful. It is crucial that leaders don’t show panic, as employees often model their behaviour, particularly in times of crisis. It does not mean that leaders need to have all the answers – it just means that they need to provide hope that things will eventually improve and give practical suggestions on steps to take on the path to recovery.
None of us know how long this situation is going to last or what the long term effects will be but knowing that the leadership has a clear plan of action and that they care about their employee’s health and well-being, will go a long way towards them feeling confident and secure. They need to know that their contributions are valued and integral to the future success of the business. If we can learn and adapt together, there is a much greater chance of coming through this testing time, both stronger and more resilient.
In the meantime, do not forget to celebrate the wins, however small and praise your team for things they are doing well. Positivity breeds positivity, even in times of crisis.