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How Do We Lead Our Teams Effectively, but Virtually (again)?

You’re just back into the swing of working from the office, your leadership team were responding well to the new rhythm, and it started to feel ‘normal’ to leave the house and take on a commute, and then ‘Plan B’ was announced here in England.

For those of you reading this outside of the UK, that means we have been advised to go back to working from home ‘if we can’. So it’s back to online meetings and balancing the demands of delivering results whilst also keeping wellbeing, productivity and motivation levels high within teams.

How do You Lead Your Team Effectively Through Plan B?

It’s a human behaviour fact that change creates tension—resistance to doing something differently and internally decoding change as having done something wrong.

Leadership Effectiveness is about acknowledging that forced change is a challenge. It’s about setting a foundation that sends a message of security and support.

As you start to adjust your leadership to address Plan B, here are a few tips to help you navigate this situation – reframe and remain mentally agile.

1: Clarity comes first

It’s the leaders’ role to create clarity. Don’t confuse that with needing to know the answer. It’s a pandemic; no one has the answer. We are in untested territory. Clarity means setting a tone, creating expectations, communicating what you do know.

2: Appreciate different perspectives

Being open to differences, seeing the challenges through the lens of others and remembering that your team will have differing views. Welcome these perspectives, create forums that allow your team to share what’s going on for them.

3: Be honest, humble and human

When life continues to flip flop, that rollercoaster feeling can create a sink or swim reaction in people. As a leader, you are more comfortable with being on that rollercoaster, you’re exposed to more, and you’re wired to take on the challenge. Remember to be honest with yourself,  step off the rollercoaster, be available and be human in your interactions.

4: A Pandemic of meetings

We’ve been here before. We know the drill. We know how to work together remotely. Let’s avoid a pandemic of meetings but intentionally create micro-moments to meet, be together, share information, brainstorm. As the leader, you create what you sense your team needs. It’s not a one size fits all so remember to be flexible. Click here for my guide to maximising meetings.

5: Lean on your Purpose and Passion

Remember why your team exists. What its objectives are. How the teams’ contribution makes a difference. These points generate passion and a commitment to your purpose. It’s the north star for your team. And the message to lean on to keep you all aligned and on track.

So what can leaders do when they’re faced with this place?

The main thing I would say, and my experience talking to many leaders who have had to navigate change, not just a pandemic, but decades of change. Is that being human, honest, and humble will really help you figure out your next steps—human to the perspective of knowing that people around you are all going to be feeling different. You’re going to have members of your team who will be pleased with the idea of not having to commute back into home working and others who find working from home challenging and lonely.

So this human piece of just accepting that as human beings, we are all different, and therefore as a leader, acknowledging those differences.  This humble behaviour also helps a leader recognise that your goals, targets, and what you need to achieve for your function may not be as important to others as it is to you. Thinking about how you position yourself when you still need to make those achievements happen, but at the same time reframing and thinking – what are the most critical targets right now? What are the things that we do need to achieve as a team? What can I dial back? What do I need to dial-up?

And thirdly, this piece is about honesty. One of the things I hear from the many executive leaders that I coach is that when they’re faced with change, what can push them off track is the feeling that they should have the answers. The need to control, the need to know, the need to plan, the need to have structure, and what we know is that many of those needs aren’t there when change is taking place.

When we think about what our team actually need and want from us, this honesty is really what makes a difference. And this honesty around ‘this is how I’m feeling’ this honesty around ‘this is what I know, and this is what I don’t know’. And this honesty around ‘this is what I expect’. ‘This is what I need’. These are the things that I will want from you. So the honesty brings a level of clarity. And that clarity is 100% the most important role that any leader has at any given time, but even more so when we have to go into Plan B.

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