One of the defining qualities of a successful leader is the ability to endure through difficult times, to give confidence and direction to those around them when the going gets tough. Use this checklist of the questions to ask yourself to help you change your approach and adapt to any situation.
• What is the single most important thing you need from your people right now?
• What is the single most important thing your people need from you right now?
Inevitably, this will look and feel a bit different from normal. Give people permission to create a new normal. Be clear about decisions that have already been made and are non-negotiable, versus areas where you want people to make their own judgment.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Creating a very clear sense of what is important during tough times will allow people to prioritise and focus on the right things.
Stop, Start, Continue
In turbulent times, we will need to create a new normal, underpinned by new habits:
• What routines, processes or habits can people stop doing?
• What new routines, processes or habits should people start doing?
• What are the fundamental routines, processes or habits that are keeping the business going and must continue at all cost?
This is an exercise that can be done individually, or collectively as a team (via technology such as video conferencing). It is a great way of empowering staff to make change. Equally, if push comes to shove and you have to make the toughest decisions about your business, it’s a simple but effective way of deciding what stays and what goes.
Leadership is lonely. Especially when the going is tough and when so many of us are working from home. Prioritise the tasks and people that energise and inspire you.
As a leader, your health and wellbeing has never been more important. Do not be stoic, be smart. You will need to role model a work-life balance and an attitude that you want others to follow. That means looking after yourself, getting outside, taking breaks, eating well and leaving headspace for things other than work. However resilient you are, however hard you work, you have a finite capacity. Use it wisely.
It seems counter-intuitive, but what opportunities has the current crisis created for your business?
• What new markets can you explore?
• How can you strengthen the relationship and trust with your customers, even if you are not currently working with them in the way you normally would?
• How can you demonstrate your values to your existing and potential customers?
• What are the tasks that you have been putting off?
• What research can you get done?
• How can you virtually extend your network?
• What collaboration opportunities exist?
• What development targets can you agree for staff working from home?
• What social media opportunities can you build on?
This article originally appeared in the 2021 Oxford Innovation Business Resource Manual. This 60-page resource, full of articles covering leadership, crisis management, marketing, strategy and more, is available in full to all Oxford Innovation Cornwall clients.
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