Leadership beyond COVID-19

BY GREG MITCHELL

WITHOUT doubt, the capabilities and character of employers and business leaders have been put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While things are beginning to look brighter, it’s clear that we have a way to go before business returns to something more closely resembling “normal”.

I was recently invited to chat (via Zoom of course!) with a group of business owners about the challenges and opportunities of managing their teams through and beyond COVID-19.  Here’s a snapshot of the material we covered:

Leadership in Uncertain Times

The ability to lead in times of uncertainty is a clear test for any leader. The following tips (informed by an article by Meredith Parfet and Aaron Solomon published on Fast Company), are useful:

Rely on experts to strengthen your voice – Good leaders know that they can’t be an expert on everything. Draw on the expertise of others and seek help when you need it.

Highlight readiness – While the current situation is unique, most businesses have been through some type of crisis before, and/or have business continuity plans in place. Now’s the time to draw on those experiences and plans.

Build community – Particularly during times such as these, most people are seeking connection and a sense of belonging. What can you do to better connect with your team, and connect them with one another?

Seek feedback – What are your team thinking and feeling, what suggestions do they have for working through this difficult period?

Be willing to throw some rules out – Unique times often call for alternate protocols, actions and responses. Be flexible and adaptable.

Show your work – Take, demonstrate and clearly communicate your actions as a leader to respond to these uncertain times.

Emphasise passion over persuasion – More than ever, it’s a time to bring your team together. Work to send a message along the lines of “It’s difficult, but we have a plan and we’ll get through it together.”

Getting on the Front Foot

With a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, many leaders are thinking about a return to some level of normality. Consider these tips:

Welcome Back! – Mark the occasion in some way (with appropriate precautions) – morning tea, decorations, afternoon drinks etc…

Provide a Business Update – How’s the business positioned, what’s changed, what are our future plans and strategies?

Develop and implement a Reconnection Plan (with clients, suppliers, business partners, networks).

Develop and implement your COVID Safe Plan – Identify and control risks; Consult, communicate with and train your team;  Ensure Personal Protective Equipment is in place (sanitiser, wipes, sneeze screens, gloves etc…); Ensure a clear process for reporting hazards and incidents; Sort out signage. Bonus tip: Safe Work Australia and Safe Work NSW have a heap of free resources to assist – check out their websites.

Look after one Another – Keep in mind that some of your staff, clients and others may be particularly anxious/sensitive at this time (anxiety about safety, their families, security of employment etc..). Be attuned to the signs and prepared to respond accordingly. Seek help if need be.

Greg Mitchell is the Principal Consultant/Owner of HR Success, which has been supporting businesses and organisations in Western Sydney for over 13 years. Visit www.hrsuccess.com.au for further information or make contact via ph. 1300 783 211 or email support@hrsuccess.com.au for assistance with managing your team.

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