Leaders: Don’t Wait to Communicate!
It’s something I cannot stress enough: The importance of communicating with your team now during this crisis. If you don’t have all the answers, don’t worry about it – just don’t hide.
Vulnerability is okay. Absence is not. If you want to lead, be real and communicate. If you want to hide then you are not leading, you aren’t even managing.
Don’t Get Stuck in the Sand
If you are in a leadership position, then by definition you have people you are leading and those individuals are following you. If you aren’t engaging with them then how can they follow? If your head is stuck in the sand, is it okay if they stick their head in the sand, too?
Consider how that would look for a sales team. There would be no outreach to clients and prospects, and no focus on what can actually be done to generate revenue for the company either now or when this virus subsides.
This is Your Legacy
If you are not communicating now, then you may want to examine why you want to be in a leadership position at all. The leadership legacy you leave will be based on what you do in this crisis.
If you are silent, will your team follow someone or something else? Will they get distracted by the stress and their anxieties, and fail to focus on the mission? Oh wait, if you aren’t communicating with them, then how do they even know what the mission is?
Now more than ever, you, as the leader, must communicate the mission by focusing on the message. What is it that your team should concentrate on? And don’t assume they know. They may, but more likely, they have forgotten or are confused from a lack of guidance.
Whether you lead one sales team, a division, or an entire company, people are watching you and will take their cue from you. If you are leading the company and relying on those leaders and managers under you to communicate to their teams, take this opportunity to also communicate to the company as a whole.
Adjust Your Style
As a leader, you likely have a hard-wired style. If you are not a natural motivator, you may need to work a little harder to interact with your team. You don’t need to be patronizing, but you can reach out to one or two employees every day and check-in. Or hold a daily huddle to get together as a group.
Be sincere, genuine and thoughtful. Make sure you get out of your own head and concerns and focus on those you are leading.
Great Reading Suggestions
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, is especially beneficial to help you build relationships which are critical to lead successfully. And here are a couple of books related to leading in a crisis:
- Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition, by Dennis N. T. Perkins, Margaret P. Hotman, Paul R. Kessler, and Catherine McCarthy
- Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company, by Andrew S. Grove
To examine your reason for being a leader, read Patrick Lencione’s new book, The Motive.