When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ or do they?
Leaders around the world, in business and government, have been facing enormous challenges at this time. Amid so much uncertainty about Covid-19, how can leaders inspire their teams and colleagues through this time of heightened anxiety?
History can certainly serve as a guide. Some of the very best leaders understood how to provide stability, a steady hand, and hope, even when they themselves were uncertain about the road ahead. They did this through their honesty and humanity. They celebrated small victories, even when the losses seemed large.
So what does this mean for us today? Leadership is as it suggests all about the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal – the survival of your organisation through unprecedented challenge. So now is the time as a leader that you need to become “real” and inspire people through these difficult times.
Your job, as a leader today, is to provide both brutal honesty — a clear account of the challenges your company, or team faces but credible hope that together you and your team have the resources needed to meet the threats you face each day: determination, solidarity, strength, shared purpose, humanity, kindness, and resilience.
You also need to make sure you tell people what their role and purpose is. You need to get people to understand that they are part of the solution.
You also need to realise that you need to get comfortable with widespread ambiguity and chaos, and so need to navigate through the turbulence, adjusting, improvising, and re-directing as the situation changes and new information emerges. Everyone needs to be clear as to their role and know what is expected of them, but also realistic that there will need to be changes in course and flexibility and an element of learning from mistakes. It will also give you a powerful opportunity for you and your teams to understand more about their strengths and weaknesses, what really engages and motivates and their own reason for being.
As a leader you also need to keep up your energy up so it is vital you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Know when you are capable of being focused and productive, and when you need a break. If you model these behaviours, you will bring your team along with you and build trust.
You must be visible and as more teams are still working remotely this is so important as we face the next challenge of returning to work but maybe not in the way we did before and this requires a different leadership style. It certainly will need you to make sure they are engaged, committed and to still feel part of your organisational culture.
People need to believe also that their leaders can get the job done. So as a leader, you need to show up and perform well without allowing your organisation to sense your fears.
For leaders to lead, they need not only exceptional talent but also the ability to attract followers and followers’ motivations fall into two categories—rational and irrational. The rational ones are conscious and therefore well-known. They have to do with hopes of gaining money, status, power, or entry into a meaningful enterprise by following a great leader—and the fear of missing out if we don’t. More influential, much of the time, and especially during a time of organisational stress, are the irrational motivations that lie outside the realm of our awareness and, therefore, beyond our ability to control them. For the most part, these motivations arise from the powerful images and emotions in our unconscious that we project onto our relationships with leaders ie the need for praise, recognition and protection. At this same time, you as the leader is preoccupied with handling the crisis at hand and, therefore, is probably less alert to this. So clear communication IS VITAL.
So how will you be remembered through this crisis?
The Ship’s Captain: decisive, strategic, and having helped people understand the plan and their part in it , compassionate and an understanding of how the situation is for those concerned, and project the hope that together we can manage the crisis, even though we don’t know everything about the present situation, or the disappointing leader.
Whichever it is as Nelson Mandela said:
So be Brave – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4. Unleash your inner power. Provide the motivational push to someone else to be their best by inspiring them to cast fear aside, start speaking up and sharing more of their amazing selves with the world. That’s bravery!