Leaders who operate with deliberate compassion and calm are going to be the winners during a crisis; primarily because they know how to manage their fears and remain in control. Indeed, emotions are at the heart of the leader’s work and yet talking about feelings remains a taboo in organisations. Though we recognise that managing emotions are a genuine and practical leadership skill, it doesn’t always come to all of us naturally, and it’s ok to know that we don’t know. When leaders admit that, they can harness an authentic presence and connect with their vulnerable side as well as others. To help and support you here are some pointers below.
In a crisis, be decisive. We all need to challenge the rules as a part of our development. Your job is to help your team to strive for success. Challenging individuals is not harmful when done with good intention. As a leader, it is your responsibility to present existing challenges as opportunities and to be available for support if needed.
Eat lots of humble pie.
According to Professor Edgar Schein of MIT, this type of ‘hero’ leadership has its limitations. Now more than ever an organisation to thrive, it is not enough to hire smart people what helps? How could you inspire your people to share their knowledge? Schein says that in traditional leadership structures based on static hierarchy, junior workers hold back too often, reluctant to say something that might make them look bad.
That’s why hero leadership needs to give way to what Schein calls ‘humble leadership’, a direction which encourages multiple perspectives.
Exercise your empathy muscle
Embedded in a logic of otherness empathy qualifies a relationship between two people—a crucial point when it comes to communication. Empathy establishes a link between you and the other. In any human organisation, empathetic leadership is valued, appreciated and welcomed. We may believe all we are in the same boat, but this is impacting your people in all different ways, and as leaders, this is where your empathetic skills are needed.
Check-in before people Check-out
To care means to feel genuine concern and interest in your team; meaning a real understanding of the difficulties of others and a desire to relieve it. Initiate bonding and choose to connect with your team. Develop a sincere interest in your team members, because this will serve all of you well in the long run. When people feel connected; the working relationship is likely to improve for all.
“Walking the talk is no longer a unique form of leadership, but one that is necessary and relevant for today’s crisis.“
Listen with your whole body.
Various studies concur that listening is one of the critical characteristics of an effective leader and is one of the main expectations of employees. Frank Ostaseski goes a step further. He encourages us to learn, to listen and communicate from three levels, the body, the heart, and the mind.
Conflict and cooperation Disagreements are part of life, and how we deal with them is often modelled by the team leader. I recommend leaders to have thin skin, i.e. be exceptionally aware of any disputes and support team members to debate and face conflicts. We are all looking for connection and collaboration towards a common goal. By doing the above, you will ensure effective teamwork, a healthy debate, more in-depth inquiry and a common bond.
Tell me more
These are the three most important words in business. Every time you want to speak, ask a question, and if you can’t think of a question, use “Tell me more,” These three little words have immense power and give data to see what is going on in your team. Facilitate discussions by asking appropriate questions and encourage the team to bring their distinct knowledge, experience, or skills to a project. Providing them with a chance to explain things to each other creates a sharing culture and allows you to understand local working practices better.
Curiosity did not kill the cat.
You can never over-communicate in a time of crisis. Keep talking, keep connecting and keep up the dialogue. But keep your communication crystal clear. Curiosity is about learning, exploration and investigation, and there is so much to be gained by being curious in a global setting. Ask questions, discover more, have a thirst for knowledge and your environment. Always ask open-ended “How” and “Why” questions and wait for their answers.
One of the most omnipresent sayings in business is that the greatest leaders are the leaders who “walk the talk” Meaning that their actions and day-to-day operations match the purposes they have for themselves, their colleagues and organization.
The new normal calls for a unique form of leadership, one that is necessary and relevant for today’s teams and today’s crisis. Are you ready?