By Diana Tapp, CEO at World Class Teams
As you lead your business during this recession, it is crucial to be forward-thinking. How can you change, restart, reinvigorate and reinvent so that your business thrives rather than struggles to survive?
As Leaders, we need to step up and be stronger than ever. To serve your businesses best you can no longer have a bias towards having authority or showing empathy, you now need both in equal measure.
You need the decisiveness, overt confidence and genuine (not fake!) positivity for your staff and clients to feel a level of comfort that their work is going to be okay. You also need to show empathy as so many of your staff continue to be impacted by the events of 2020.
While your people may be very grateful that their job is reasonably secure, they may have a partner who is out of work, a mortgage they are struggling to pay, elderly parents whose health and care they are concerned about. And of course, these concerns will not quickly disappear. Hence, the level of care and understanding, while still enabling people to be productive, is a skill and quality that is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for stand-out leaders, it is now an essential skill for leaders.
These two qualities, authority and empathy, need to be overarching as you take the three steps to lead your business during this recession. As Leaders, you need to visibly switch gears from ‘survival mode’ to ‘reinvigorate mode’.
- For much of the last six months you have probably been in ‘survival mode’. This has required you to be decisive, to create certainty for your staff, to communicate clearly and frequently.
- Now in ‘reinvigorate mode’ you must have a strong forward focus. It is time to rethink and reinvent. It is time to move up, not merely move on (and yes, the words you choose make a huge difference to people’s thinking and therefore behaviours).
In ‘reinvigorate mode’, there are three critical steps for Leaders to take.
Step 1: Ask the Right Questions
Business and life will never ‘go back’. The notion of ‘returning to normal’ or to ‘business as usual’ is unrealistic.
To move up rather than simply survive, you need to ask specific questions of your team. You need to be very adept at asking the right questions in this current environment. And they are difficult questions to answer, so you must create the opportunity for them to think and to collaborate on the answers.
The key questions are:
|‘How can we?’
||‘Do you think it will be possible?’
|‘How will we?’
||‘How did we?’
Step 2: Start with the Future
We say ‘begin with the end in mind’, but then we always begin with ‘where are we at the moment?’
For your business to come out of the blocks ahead of competitors, you need to do what you say. Begin with the end in mind. Start with the future. You need to put your blinkers back and encourage your team to do the same by asking ‘How would we like our business to look?’ ‘What if …..?’
This future is inspiring and challenging and gets people looking up and outwards rather than behind and inwards.
The ‘now’ is useful as the second step. It enables you to plan how you will achieve this new future, in the classic mapping of the route from A to B. Because B is a big prize, it is likely the route will challenge you to design a step-change.
The step-change may well require a significant change for some of your people too. Do they have the necessary skills? Are they engaged, motivated and prepared to go the extra mile to help create this new future?
Step 3: Show Empathy through Acknowledgement
The impact of COVID is different for everyone, and their personality traits will also contribute to the way they are feeling and coping.
As a leader, you need to acknowledge their thoughts and feelings. You don’t need to agree, but you do need to acknowledge them because this acknowledgement is what enables the person to feel understood. People must feel understood before they have the capacity to take on board your suggestions.
One of two phrases, said sincerely, is all that is required. These phrases are ‘That sounds really difficult/frustrating.’ Or ‘I can see/hear this has been tough.’
The challenge is to implement these three steps well. Rate yourself in terms of your authority and empathy, so that you’re confident in your ability to lead in these unprecedented times, times that require a step change in leadership ability and commitment.
Do you want your business to move up and become world class? Take the test to see how close you are. Our scorecard benchmarks your people’s ability to operate at a world class level, rating performance on 7 key attributes and identifying opportunities to rapidly improve results. Take the test now. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line FREE WORLD CLASS TEST.