A practical guide to connected leadership
Lead with confidence and focus during diverse work conditions
Over the last couple of months, the business landscape has changed dramatically. Times have been uncertain and full of new challenges. We have learned to function from a distance with minimal physical contact, and the home has rapidly cemented its place at work. It has been a rollercoaster ride for businesses, their leaders and the wider organisation. As New Zealand starts to emerge from our pandemic shackles, the agile and relational leader is more important than ever. Businesses will need to continue to adapt to a range of working conditions, and it will be essential to have the tools to lead during these diverse conditions.
It’s a good time to reflect on how to lead teams from a distance, within uncertainty, and what this means as we move forward at Level 1. The following are some practical tips from Dr Peter Blyde who is a regular facilitator on Executive Education programmes.
Dr Peter Blyde has been at the forefront of executive leadership development for almost 30 years. He consults public and private organisations throughout Australasia. He primarily focuses on advanced leadership, executive teams, resilience and leading change. Peter is skilled at helping experienced professionals to apply strategic, interpersonal and personal insights in complex leadership environments. He regularly facilitates the Executive Education short courses Emotional Intelligence–Engaged Leadership and Leadership that Motivates High Performance.
Leadership in context
Good leadership is always good leadership, but the context does shape what is important. When times are more certain, expertise and experience matter more; but in times of uncertainty, character and values matter most.
The key is to come back to first principles around the things that are important to you and the organisation overall. How you demonstrate these become even more central. Primarily, leadership has always been relational but particularly in uncertainty. How you demonstrate empathy and care for others becomes even more important, so be more deliberate about checking in with people regularly. Lift the frequency of your more formal one-on-one calls or videoconferencing.
As we move down to Level 1 and people struggle transitioning back to the workplace, take the time to acknowledge and recognise their individual circumstances and challenges. Make an effort to help ensure their needs are met.
“Stay connected, communicate and be clear about current priorities”
Three key questions to incorporate into your one-on-ones, today, and going forward
1. How are you feeling about things today? /“how are you feeling today?”
Take an active interest in recognising that people have to adjust to a range of new challenges to support the organisation, but, are also dealing with a lot outside of work.
Recognise that in uncertainty, people can be regularly inundated with new information and this can trigger quick changes to emotions. From one day to the next, people can move from feeling fine to feeling overwhelmed and less certain. Under the context of a global pandemic, it is not just organisational performance that is affected. This question signals that it is ok to feel uncertain (it’s to be expected even) and shows the intent of checking in. People appreciate this more in times of uncertainty.
2.What are the priorities for you this week/today?
This question helps with overwhelm. When people get overwhelmed with all the choices they need to make, a leader’s primary contribution is to help bring their eye to the fewest things that will make the biggest difference. People can end up majoring in minors in times of overwhelm but this question helps give people (and you!) the confidence they are making progress on the things that will make the biggest difference for the organisation.
3. What support can I provide you?
This question is another expression of caring. A good follow-up to this is “What decisions can I help you with?” In times of uncertainty and overwhelm people can get stuck. Often, the support they are looking for is increased decision momentum. A good leader can play a role in this through providing support and clarity. “Look, we don’t know how this is going to be long term, and things may change in 2 weeks but for today the decision we are running with is…. “
The key – staying connected
Keep lifting those one-on-ones! At the core, the main mechanism is to prioritise collective and one-on-one time. We are increasingly going to have to do this at a distance, and so, getting some phone and voice connection into that mix is helpful for people emotionally. This is especially important for people who feel isolated and having groups of people in the room sharing their experiences will become more and more important.
Executive Education hope you find this article helpful and relatable. If you have any feedback or would like to suggest areas for advice from our experts please email firstname.lastname@example.org.