Leadership can be challenging in normal times. When you add a major world event, like COVID-19, we are all pushed to the limit. Sometimes, new limits we’ve never experienced before. That may require us to be more intentional in our responses and communication to our colleagues, to ensure we don’t respond in ways that are driven by anxiety or fear instead of leadership, support, and encouragement.
Be real. Our current circumstances call for authentic leadership more than ever. Why? Because authentic leaders are trustworthy leaders. And everyone is looking for someone they can trust when faced with uncertainty. It’s ok that those we lead know that we’re human and we’re experiencing the same wide range of emotions that many of them are feeling. Humanizing leadership in this way is incredibly important and powerful. Being able to trust in someone, is a highly effective antidote for fear. Also, knowing you’re in it with them and will be forthright and honest about keeping them updated, will alleviate a lot of unnecessary fear and anxiety.
Be proactive with your team. Spend some time each day thinking about what underlying concerns your team may have and communicate proactively what you know and don’t know. When you anticipate the needs of your colleagues and proactively communicate, it reduces the amount of speculation and distraction caused by people trying to find their own answers. It’s also important to create an environment where colleagues know they are heard. Even if someone knows you don’t know the answer (which is ok), just knowing they can express their fears and concerns and that their leader is committed to getting the answers as they come, is incredibly comforting.
Be candid and communicate frequently. It is perfectly ok, to be honest about what you know and what you don’t know. The most important thing is to be as transparent as you can and communicate frequently. Even when you don’t have new updates, you should be communicating with your team. This demonstrates that you have them at the forefront of your mind and that as soon as you know more, they’ll know more. There’s no roadmap here and our teams know and understand that!
The last thing I’ll offer is this. I’m here for you. Whether you’re a new leader or a seasoned vet, this is going to present a lot of new challenges and push us out of our comfort zone. If you need an outside party to listen, brainstorm or offer advice, never hesitate to reach out to me. We’re in this together.
Amy Perkins is President of insideARM and The iA Institute and Chair of the uniquely engaging Women in Consumer & Commercial Finance event. She also hosted this amazing video series called #fiveinfive, interviewing dozens of women about what they've learned and who they admire. You can follow Amy on Linkedin.