Leadership Is Contagious Too.

cliffhilton Blog, Lead Others, Lead Yourself

By: Gregg Dedrick & Dr. Tim Galbraith

Leaders have an important role to play in this time of crisis.  In fact, how you choose to lead is actually contagious and will filter down throughout your team.  Are you responding with hope or fear?  Are you showing empathy or expecting your team to adjust and move on?  Are you communicating openly or hoarding information?  Have you noticed your team “catching” the same behaviors you’re using?

You see, leaders are always on stage.  Your team listens to your tone of voice, watches your expression on Zoom calls, and uses that information to influence what they think and how they feel about things.

Crisis also puts your current leadership style on steroids because people are looking to you for guidance.  It serves as a mirror for the type of leader you are today. If you’ve learned positive leadership techniques, these skills will be amplified, and the same if you’re struggling with leading your team.

It’s time to raise your self-awareness as a leader so you can lead your team to great things both during and after the crisis.  Use these five tips to help you lead well:

  1. Show your team you care. Now is the time to connect with your team to let them know it’s not just about the business because if you don’t care about the individual, they won’t care about you or the organization during the crisis.  Spend time personally connecting with each person on your team.  Ask how they are doing.  Ask about their family and how they are adjusting.  Ask what more can you can do to help them and make things easier.  Taking time to listen makes them feel cared about and important. This also helps build passionate commitment in those you lead.
  2. Be empathic. During a crisis, leaders need to show empathy.  You start by acknowledging reality.  Ask how they are doing and affirm how their fears, struggles and challenges are real.  You can even share something you’re struggling with too.  Your vulnerability will open the door to powerful conversations.  Then, it’s time to lead them to action.  If you focus on getting them to do their job without understanding their reality first, they will write you off.  During crisis, prioritize connection over action.
  3. Communicate extensively. Now more than ever is the time to up your communication game. Here’s how:
    1. Be transparent and honest about what’s going on. Don’t hoard information or paint a picture of what you wish reality was.  Your team will appreciate your vulnerability and honesty.  This will build trust with your team.
    2. Communicate more often than necessary. It’s tempting to assume people know what’s going on, but during a crisis, frequency matters.  With people working remotely, and social distancing being the new norm, it’s your job as the leader to keep everyone in the loop.  Make a real effort to stay in touch.  Schedule regular 1:1 and team meetings to stay connected and share updates.
    3. Establish hope. Spend time thinking about what you are learning during the crisis and how your team is growing and adjusting to the changes.  Share this with your team and remind them things will get better.  Work together to create a vision for the future based on what you’re learning now.
  4. Take time to recognize others. Recognition is your secret weapon to inspire your team.  As they work hard to navigate this new normal, celebrate small wins along the way.  When you appreciate the contributions of your team, you show that you’re watching, it validates the person doing the work, and it builds trust.  Your recognition can help inspire your team to do the hard work it takes to move your organization forward during the crisis.
  5. Live out your values each day. Organizational values aren’t created for good times; they are created to get you through difficult times.  Now is the time to walk the talk of your values.  Use them to guide your decisions and impact how you treat others.  When you come out of the crisis, even if there are some unexpected consequences, people will have confidence in you and the organization if you stayed true to what your organization believes to be important.

Which of these tips do you do well?  Which ones inspire you to become an even better leader?  How will you use these tips to help you lead well now and in the future?

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