Last year was an incredibly challenging year for all of my senior executive clients who work in small to large size organizations. All of us had to learn to rapidly evolve, adapting to new ways of leading and managing people. I’ve observed how working every day in the trenches in such times of crisis forges amazing leaders. People rely on your experience and wise decisions to protect, inspire, and support them. Leading always demands hard work to achieve developmental growth. But the rewards are phenomenal for those who accept the challenge. The challenge will also be easier to overcome if you apply my 5 key lessons.
5 Lessons to Evolve into a More Dynamic and Inspiring Leader
1) Develop New Vision
Leaders whose vision is too focused on returning to how it used to be done are fighting the wrong battle. Those who accept the reality of current challenges are making bold decisions that distinguish them as leadership role models. Where do you want to go this quarter or this year? What is your blueprint for getting there, leveraging the tools and resources that are under your control? If it’s not under your control, don’t let it sap your energy or obscure the focus. Deal with what is actually on your plate. Articulate and explain that vision to inspire your teams. Let them know, “I’ve got this, and this is the valuable and exciting role I’m counting on you to play.”Leading through crisis demands developmental growth. But the rewards are phenomenal for those who accept the challenge. Click To Tweet
2) Adapt by Being Flexible
To execute that vision, you have to be more flexible, adaptable, and innovative than ever before. You won’t solve new problems that have never been experienced by your organization by following a formula that no longer applies. Train your teams to sell services, products, and ideas using video platforms. Utilize every remote communication platform at your disposal. Advocate for the skill acquisition and technology they need. Back that up persuasively, by quantifying how much you have done with your available resources, to benefit your organization’s bottom line.
3) Emphasize Empathy
Empathy isn’t just a feel-good concept. It means relating to the other person’s perspective. You have to show empathy in practical ways that will improve the lives and careers of those you lead. That requires deeper insight into the particular problems each team member faces. Explore and discover each person’s specific and unique skills. Then put them in a position to contribute those in a dynamic way. Play to their strengths while giving them the support needed to develop areas that are not so skillful or prepared. Do that and they will walk through fire for you, when they know you have their back and their best interest in mind.
4) Share Your Human Side
Leaders who develop rapport and relationships get the most from their teams. But to nurture such relationships you first have to be relatable. You don’t trust people unless you know them, so give them a chance to know you better. Many of the executives I work with note that there is more personal sharing within their teams. If they are on a video platform, you hear the dog, or kids in the background. Employees enjoy seeing the real you behind the scenes. They can relate to how you also sometimes struggle during the pandemic. Knowing that, they will appreciate and respect you even more for how you still manage to stay focused on the big picture.
5) Build Your Organizational DNA
Successful leaders continually communicate the importance of team member’s individual work to the entire organization. People are worried about their futures and about potential layoffs. Let them know that your success depends on their success. Keep everyone inspired by celebrating their small and large accomplishments. Make sure they clearly see how they fit into the grand vision you and your organization have. Build a culture of healthy organizational DNA. When people feel a part of something greater than themselves, that culture translates into high retention, greater levels of performance, and more productivity and innovative collaboration.
Sarah’s Accelerator Questions
Ask yourself these revealing leadership questions:
- Which rare opportunities can I take advantage of during a time of change, to develop and advance my leadership?
- What is my strategy for getting to know each team member on a deeper, more collaborative level?
- How can I do a better, more consistent job of communicating my vision to those whom I want to influence and inspire?
I believe all of these qualities I’ve outlined are the hallmarks of exemplary leaders who are moving their organization forward. By asking yourself these questions, you’ll get more in touch with your own great leadership potential.