Leading Individuals, Teams, & Other Leaders in the Pandemic
Leading Your Team
Leading a team seems so straightforward at first.
There are tactical activities to manage and there needs to be a focus on a strategy too. You also need to develop people, ensure they get their work done, and hold them accountable too. Sounds easy, right?
Here is where the challenge comes in. Not every person is the same. Every person that you lead has different learning styles, personalities, interests, experiences, beliefs, and ideas. You may think that they will shift to your style, but you actually need to shift your style to each of theirs to be effective. You may have heard this called situational leadership. This is where you adapt your style to what each of your team members needs to help them develop in the best way.
You may be leading internal people across different experience levels and at various levels on the organizational chart.
This is where the nuances of leadership come into play. Think about what you need to plan for, communicate, and what your team needs to develop to build their skills and prepare them for future roles. These are the intentional ways that you will be able to support them and it helps you grow into the best leader at the same time!
Leading Through Frustration
Leaders get frustrated when their teams don’t do what is expected. What caused the team to have a disconnect between what was expected and what happened in reality?
Most of the time there is an issue with the leader holding them accountable. The leader doesn’t want to tell the team what to do. Instead, they will make suggestions or try to hint around at what should be done instead of coming out and saying what they want.
There is no need to hesitate to be more direct when things are off course from where you want them to be.
If holding people accountable is a struggle for you, then making agreements can help. It allows both the leader and team or individual to be clear on what is required so there is no confusion. It will eliminate the frustration from occurring and allow for more open communication for everyone involved.
Leading Other Leaders
As you progress to higher levels in an organization, you will inevitably not only be the leader of a team, but you will begin to lead other leaders. While this may seem similar in scope, leading other leaders requires a different mindset to be effective. These high potential leaders may already have strong skills, experience, and the respect of their teams. They are looking to be further developed and stretched even more. How will you set these leaders up for success?
You will need to leverage your strong foundation of experience, values, and confidence when you manage high potential leaders.
Be intentional and plan out your conversations with them. They will challenge your thinking, decisions, and leadership on a regular basis. Many will have strong career ambitions. They want to stand out, influence decisions, be strategic, develop their teams, and progress in their careers. This is what they should be doing and if you think about it, you are doing this same thing with your own career as you work with your management.
Your job is to stretch your direct reports to prepare them as potential successors for you in your role and to help them connect with influencers in the organization.
Empower them with clear ownership for key areas so they have visibility for what they deliver and how they develop their own teams. Encourage their ideas, decisions, and provide them opportunities to demonstrate their leadership presence in front of senior management. They need to know that you are there to help them learn from any mistakes that may occur and be there to support their success.
Leading in the Pandemic
We are five months into the shift to leading teams remotely and at this point, it looks like it will be a lot longer. The ways of working are different, but your priorities are the same. Focus on the development of the team, deliver on your goals, and influence/communicate with clients and your management.
What is different now is that people are dealing with so much more stress, anxiety, and uncertainty outside of work that is affecting them at work too. It is a reality that can’t be ignored. Promotions, lateral changes, and projects have been put on hold which adds to the challenges that people are facing.
Here are some questions that you can think about when you are assessing how the organization and your team members are doing:
How is the team doing?
Are you seeing big differences in your team members and could they use additional support?
Is the support they need something that you can provide or do they need outside help?
What can you do to help them be motivated and inspired to maintain a positive attitude?
Are you making time for those people that you mentor outside of your team?
How can you continue to ensure the people that you support are still getting the visibility that they need while working remotely?
Leading in this challenging time requires an intentional evaluation of how the team is doing.
Many will say they are fine, but are they really? You can share the observations that you see and let them know that you are there for them. Simply having this awareness during conversations can help uncover something that may be below the surface because you are listening differently now.
Be transparent and honest with them. It is completely okay to say you don’t have all the answers.
Be present for the members of your team and the people that you mentor. Let them share how they are doing and show that you are genuinely there to listen to them. Do this with intention and people will know that they can get through this changing environment with your support.
Susan M Barber, President of Susan M Barber Coaching & Consulting, LLC, works with individuals, teams, and organizations to build skills that leaders need to attain breakthrough results. Her passion for coaching and leadership development is driven by seeing the transformation of leaders as they reach far beyond their own ideas of success. She continues to drive custom programs for groups that want to make changes in their careers to become more powerful leaders.