The world as we know it has changed – probably unalterably. We shall not go back to doing what we were doing or how we were doing it. This time in history marks the renewal of many things and that includes the way we lead.
During difficult times and unprecedented change, leadership becomes more important. The job of a leader will go beyond a series of checkbox activities (setting a vision, goals, etc.) to becoming a more deliberate focus on people and their well being. However for the leader, this can be challenging: How do I reassure my people that everything is going to be fine when I am unsure?
Leadership can be summed up as an ongoing relationship. As we know, relationships are hard work. They require commitment, communication, honesty and the ability to hold yourself and others accountable. How is it possible to achieve this while focusing only on the deadlines and targets to be met? The human factor – the people factor must become more prominent in our leadership practice.
Fayruz Abrahams (Consulting Psychologist) says that the system psychodynamics triggered by trauma and anxiety manifests sub-optimal team behaviour and dysfunctional team defenses. Leaders can diffuse this, through their presence and she suggests five approaches the leaders could adopt during times of unprecedented change – the “5Cs”;
When things are crazy, abnormal, bizarre, or just down right unprecedented – your role as a leader is to stay calm. Stay clam through the storm, don’t ever become the eye of the storm. Your team will not know how to respond if they see you go into a panic.
Make sure your team clearly understand what you expect of them. Be clear in your communication. Clarity of expectations (both result and contribution) must be stated. Keep the scoping of expectations (what they need to focus on and what they need to deliver / contribute) to a shorter time frame. In other words, do not scope out their deliverables for the year, rather scope it for a month and do it more frequently. Also be clear on your feedback, and inform them on whether they achieved what was expected or not, and why.
Constancy means fidelity, faithfulness, and commitment. It is the quality of being loyal, enduring, unchanging, and dependable. When everything is changing, your people will need to look to you for the anchorage point.
Be consistent. Being a ‘one hit wonder’ is disappointing at best. Blowing hot and cold creates uncertainty. Show up and keep showing up. It is constancy in the small acts of kindness and consideration is what is required during difficult times. Napoleon Hill said, “Failure cannot cope with persistence”.
Care is unconditional concern for the other, which is benevolent intent. It is the fuel that propels a relationship to a level deep trust. This is what is demonstrated by the quality of your engagement and your presence in your team’s life. It has to be sincere.
Find ways to involve the entire team in your thinking process. Build a wolf-pack, by eliciting their input and views on the critical projects that is being pursued. A wolf-pack will be binding coalition that advocates and collaborates with you for change. Make the entire team feel valued and find innovative ways of keeping them interacting and participating in the process. Diverse views enrich the team and its outputs.
This will take practice and more practice. Practice makes perfect. It also makes it Permanent.
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If you want to read more about Care & Growth Leadership, take a look at Etsko’s book: The Two Sandals