Build bridges: Leadership Lessons During a Global Pandemic by Johncey George

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When you talk about disruptions in the business world, nothing can transcend what the Coronavirus has done in all our lives. It has disabled our neat little structures and routines and thrown us all for a loop. What a year it has been! We’re living in unprecedented times and this requires unprecedented leadership skills. As a leader, how do you navigate this strange situation that we find ourselves in?

Here are my top 5 suggestions:

Show empathy: Some of your team may suffer from anxiety or have inexplicable fears that are triggered at a time like this. Rather than trivialize it, you must be sensitive and empathetic to the needs of those around you. Your team will remember how you made them feel during this time. Build bridges rather than seek isolation.

Allay fears: As the leader of a company or a team, you set the tone of how the team responds and reacts both professionally and personally. So, educate yourself on the facts and ensure that you communicate them in a timely fashion without sensationalizing or trivializing them. What you say and how you say it matters most at a time like this. It is your direction that will keep your team focused on the tasks at hand and not dissolve into huddles of rumours and endless speculations.

Get what needs to be done, done: You must also do what needs to be done to ensure your teams’ safety and security. This is not a time to be dismissive about concerns and precautionary measures even though these are unexpected financial outflows at a time when doing business is harder than usual.

It is good to see that many organizations and leaders around the world are quick to react. I am part of BNI, world’s largest business networking organization, where members meet every week. BNI was quick to put in a plan of action moving many meetings online, something no member would have imagined a few weeks ago.

Be liberal with trust: This is a big one. It is important that you don’t give in to the temptation to monitor your team but lead with trust. This means focussing on outcomes and not on how many hours they put in today. Remember, your team consists of adults who know how to manage their time and their lives. So, give them a broad framework and stress that you are looking for timely deliveries and high-quality work. There are going to be situations that are out of your or the team’s control, such as inadequate internet access at home, interruptions by family members, electricity playing truant and many more. Trust your team through all these situations and watch them blossom under your care.

Groom your second level of leaders
This is also a good time to identify inefficiencies in your process and what can be done to work better together. Also,keep an eye out for those who take on additional responsibilities and show leadership potential. This is your second line of leaders. There is nothing like a crisis to draw out those who lead and take initiative. Coach them to build plans which will make your company stronger than ever. When this is all done, take a moment to thank your team and those who went above and beyond to ensure that it was business as usual for your customers. Don’t forget to begin grooming your second level of leaders so that you can build a strong, superior and well-functioning team that survived and emerged unscathed after Covid-19.

A leader is not a manager or supervisor. While your job title may have the words ‘coordinator’, ‘supervisor’ or ‘manager’ in it, you can still lead your team through this crisis. Reach beyond your limitations and watch how you and your team grow in this season of struggle. All the best and stay safe!

Originally published on Medium

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