Motivation, Problem Solving

How good leadership looks like in the times of the coronavirus?

My first job as a supervisor was in place with 5,000 employees under the same roof. Although the building was huge, regardless of where you go, there were many people around. I always had the feeling that people were watching me, and I better do my job right. Several years past before I realized how true this was.

I learn that my job was to coach and develop my team and remove the hurdles that stop them from doing their job safer or easier.  In other words, I learn that I work for them, not the other way.  During times of crisis, this is more important than ever. How does it look like to be a good leader during a time like this?  

The only thing that is certain during these days is uncertainty.  We cannot do the things we always think we could do without problems such as visiting our family, hang out with friends, or even go to the supermarket.  Our routines are disrupted, and it put a lot of stress on your employees’ shoulders.  When we add the uncertainty of whether they will have the health to keep working or a job to go to, the levels of stress are over the astrosphere. As leaders, we have to put the people first, always.  These days be a good leader looks like this.

Continuous and effective communication

Connect with your team at least daily, even if they are working remotely. Before talking business, take a moment to talk about how everybody is doing.    It is important to recognize our feelings, be honest, compassionate, realistic, but positive.  The load feels lighter when you know that you are not alone.  The information regarding the coronavirus changes almost every day, and with it, sometimes the business decisions and priorities change too.  Keep your team inform of any changes that affect them.  

Acknowledged the daily sacrifices

They come to work every day, even if their family is home.  It is important for them that you acknowledge that.  Remind them how important it is to follow the new guidelines to avoid the disease.  The goal is to avoid infection and keep them and their family safe.

Give clear direction

Be aware of the way you deliver the information, be clear and concise.  Give people the chance to ask questions and clarify doubts.  If possible, use visual management to allow people to see out of normal situations.  Let them know that their health and safety are important for you.  Explain how business operations are changing to protect them.  Repeat the information during several meetings to ensure they receive the message.  Use verbal and written communication for critical items.  They need to know what will happen if a team member is ill, or what will happen if they become ill.

In times like this, there are disinformation and confusion everywhere.  You may make mistakes, or new procedures did not work as expected.  It is ok, it is inevitable, nobody knows how to deal with this.  Just recognize the mistake, and correct the course without assigning blame.  

Provide focus

Companies around the world are sharing information regarding how they are keeping their employees safe.  Many are using lean thinking to adapt their operations to the current reality and to come with new ways to do their job.  Seek your team ideas and engage them in the transformation process.  To complete this task they have to focus and forget for a while what is happening outside.

Take good care of yourself

You have to care for yourself to be able to care for others.  Take some time for you to do something that helps to keep yourself grounded.  Examples are meditation, a morning run, listen to a podcast, or a book while commuting.   Your feelings are also important, reach out to your family as much as you need it.  A text message or a short call helps to ease the anxiety a little bit.  The weekend is perfect to reach out to friends and extended family.  

As a leader, people will look at you for answers.  Take time for reflection, by yourself and with the team, talk about what went well and whatnot.  Adapt your plans, use PDCA, engage your team.  You don’t need to know all the answers, don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know and ask for help.   

We are all in this together, and we will get through this together.   

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