Leadership During a Pandemic: How to Inspire and Engage Your Team
Leadership is about motivating a team, providing inspiration to push forward and encouraging others to do good things. So how does the leadership role change when the world is facing a global pandemic? How do our leaders continue to motivate and inspire when so much of our day to day lives have completely transformed?
Now more than ever, internal communication needs to be a priority. As a business leader facing a crisis, you immediately focus on the outward messaging, but it is critical to pay just as much attention to what you are communicating internally. With today’s uncertainty, it is important for leaders to make a plan and effectively communicate it to staff. Setting timelines and making the effort to lay out what you think employees need or want to know is important.
Provide opportunities to succeed
Ensure you are setting your staff up for success. During this pandemic, a lot of businesses have found themselves having to pivot and change the way they operate. For the leader that might be automatic, but you need to remember you might be asking your staff to do things they haven’t done before or in a way they haven’t done before. Take the time to ensure you are setting them up for success.
Now is not the time for perfection
Make it clear there is room to fail. If you want creativity from your team in a time like this, you must give them the space to fail and let them know it’s OK. Set up a process so the failures don’t happen publicly, but if they pursue an original idea and it’s a flop by the time it gets to approvals, take note of the fact that they tried and ensure feedback gets to the core of why it doesn’t work and how the idea can be adjusted for success. But recognize the attempt at doing things differently.
For many, working from home is new and staying connected is a challenge. Our workplace is viewed as a space of social interaction as much as it is a location for meeting business objectives. Work is where our colleagues support and motivate us and a place our leaders inspire us to do better. It is important to keep team members connected and involved in each other’s work in order to keep team morale high. This could be a 15-minute daily touch point to discuss company news and top priorities or connecting via video conference to see some friendly faces. Social distancing is hard and leaders need to keep teams connected.
Being an empathetic leader is the most important thing you can do to keep productivity moving forward. Ignoring the fact that there is a pandemic going on is not going to make things better. A leader needs to acknowledge the fact that life is not normal and people are feeling anxious and scared about the situation. People need to know that the feelings they have are normal. A sense of normalcy will make it much easier to focus on work. A leader needs to be sensitive to the fact that everyone’s situation is different and people process stress and trauma differently. A leader needs to guide their team through the collective trauma and be compassionate.
Even leaders need support
Leaders need to navigate these uncertain times, and it can be stressful and often feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. While you support your team, make sure you take time for yourself and lessen your typical ‘self’ expectations. A bit of self empathy can go a long way.