Our news is full of so many examples of good and bad leaders – so many different styles. What really works? Some leaders are talking daily to their people. Some leaders are lying about the situation and are rarely seen. Some are showing caring and are relatable. Others are threatening and downright punitive. If you’re watching the news it’s all there right in front of you. It’s a perfect time to learn about leading people.
I recently watched some videos of one of my favorite leaders right now and here’s what I saw.
He’s calm. He communicates daily, speaking slowly and clearly, but with caring. He puts things in a form that you can understand. He uses simple graphs and pictures so that you can see what the facts and issues are. He’s visible and transparent. He doesn’t whitewash the seriousness of the situation. He admits to you what he still needs to work on. He tells you how he is working to procure the tools that you’ll need to do your job. He sends positive messages to his people that they can do it. He gives pep talks that we as a united team can do this. Yes there’s a clear goal that is frequently repeated. He’s not afraid to go to the higher ups to fight for something that’s broken in the system or call out the problems. He’s not afraid to make unpopular decisions. He’s not afraid to take the blame for mistakes made. He’s inspiring and personable and you feel he is doing his best to take care of you.
I’m am not going to tell you who I’m describing. Find your own examples of this. But it’s the critical behaviors and characteristics of a good leader that I want to reinforce.
So what can you do? As their leader it is critical that you make your people feel that you are taking care of them during this crisis. As a result of this, the majority will perform for you. They will be loyal to you. Show you can be authentic, caring, and flexible. Let them see you. If not in the physical sense then through video chat on a very frequent basis – probably daily.
There’s nothing more disconcerting for an employee than a leader who carries on like nothing is happening. Two days after 9/11, my boss still hadn’t mentioned a thing about it and it was business as usual. I still remember how disappointing it was.
We are living in troubled times. It is incumbent on every leader to ask each of his/her employees “how are you” and “how are you managing with the present coronavirus situation”. You as the leader need to keep tabs on how each of your employees is adjusting to the new reality. What new stresses have been introduced into their lives as a result of the coronavirus? You may need to help problem solve with them.
- How are they still going to manage to produce for you given their new reality? Are they working at home while still caring for two children?
- Are they living in a garage or basement, riding out a quarantine?
- Are they stressing about taking care of an elderly parent?
- What are they worried about?
- What new challenges have they encountered in their work and in their life as a result of the coronavirus?
Belittling someone’s anxiety will be unhelpful and at worst demotivating for the employee. Everyone handles stress and anxiety differently, so try to be in tune with that.
It’s time to reflect on how you’re leading during the time of coronavirus. There’s a lot you can do better.