Leadership unleashed: Uniting remote teams in a crisis

Leadership unleashed: Uniting remote teams in a crisis

Leadership has always been important to the success of businesses but never more than right now. This is a time when many leaders feel like they are in unchartered waters and in truth, they are.

But this is the time that effective leaders must remain calm and maintain a sense of perspective. As Nelson Mandela said: “It is better to lead from behind and put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when good things occur. You take the front line when there is danger, then people will appreciate your leadership.”

Leaders must now take the front line, be brave, courageous and reliable. As a leader you set the tone in both good times and bad.

Your people may be feeling vulnerable, lonely, worried about their future, struggling with technology, working with family around, they may even have a relative ill with coronavirus. They need your support and understanding more than ever.

Here are 3 crucial areas to focus on to help you lead your team through this crisis and come out the other end as a shining example of a great leader.

1. Clarity of regular communication 

Make sure the information you are going to communicate is from a credible source and share it with all of your team, with transparently and honestly. This will reduce stress and more importantly get rid of rumours and fictitious stories, which will often be worse than the reality.

This information needs to be reinforced on a regular basis with reviews and updates. Not everyone gets it first time, so it is critical to help them understand and ask questions for clarification if necessary. If you don’t know the answer, don’t reply with BS.

Honesty and transparency means exactly that… so go and find out. If it is confidential information, tell them that too.

Communicate with individuals as well as bringing the team together. This can be done online; there are a plethora of tools at your disposal, personally I love Zoom, but find what works for your team.

Don’t forget that however you are, your team will be. So you must be in charge, be proactive and lead with confidence, calmness, and demonstrate an understanding of their situation.

Communicate with individuals:

  • Be accessible, so your team feel comfortable in contacting you. You must also reach out to each individual and have a conversation about how they are feeling/doing and LISTEN. Listen to understand, not just to hear.
  • Don’t be fobbed off with “I’m fine”; they may well not be.
  • Make contact at least every other day with each team member.

Communicate with the team:

  • Bring your team together on video. They need to see you and you need to see them, as well as them seeing each other. Remember you are all in this together.
  • Talk about working through the crisis as a team. Have open discussions about the organisation’s priorities and challenges, then allow the team members to come up with ideas and solutions.

2. Dealing with different processes and technology 

Don’t assume that team members “get” some of the new ways of doing things. This is just an added stress for people when they are unsure but don’t have a colleague sitting next to them in the office to ask.

If you are rolling out a new process or asking them to use different technology and it’s essential that it’s done right first time, then make sure they understand EXACTLY what to do and how to do it. Use a platform where you can share your screen, if that’s required. Again, Zoom has this facility.

Use the EDI method, a method used in the forces to ensure the job is done right first time. Otherwise we know what the consequences would be!

E – Explanation: Tell them how it’s done

D – Demonstration: Show them how it’s done

I – Imitation: Let them try it

Support and monitor them to make sure they have it nailed, then just drop in every now and again to make sure they are working to the standard required.

3. Motivating through the crisis 

Harvard Business School (HBS) conducted research that showed people were less motivated when working from home during this crisis, particularly as they are dealing with both emotional and economic pressures.

HBS found most people missed the joy of problem solving with a colleague. They wanted to be reminded of their purpose, and potentially could decline if they couldn’t gain access to colleagues/leaders that teach and develop them.

The requirement of the leader to create a motivated environment has never been greater. Clarity of communication, support and development, as mentioned above, are a great source of motivation.

Here are some top tips to keep teams and individuals motivated:

  • Maximise the use of online platforms to allow team members to regularly check in with other team members for problem solving.
  • Clearly share the direction of the company. The individual must understand their role and WHY it is so important to the company.
  • Ongoing training, coaching and general development should not stop just because we are going through this crisis… or shall I say ‘change’.

Care for your people, lead from the front and you will come out the other end victorious. To find out more about this, you can now book my Leadership Skills for New Managers training course via virtual delivery. 

Want to find out more about the three essential strategies for leadership? Dylis is hosting a member exclusive webinar on inspiring leadership that aims to deliver outstanding results on 19 May 2020. Register now.

Dylis Guyan CIM Course Director
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