Good leaders are typically comfortable with who they are. This means they are able to do what needs doing and say what needs saying with confidence, even if that means sometimes breaking outside the current paradigm.
This conviction is what gives leaders the ability to create confidence in others. They are enabled to clearly communicate their vision to others around them and motivate them to their own successes which in turn leads to success for the organization.
A good leader is focused on what is best for the organization, unconditionally. They don’t need to prove themselves in the way a new member of the organization might feel the need to. The leader’s vision for the company always comes before their own self-interest.
While good leaders are confident decision makers and allows their inner voice to guide them, they should always be available for consultation and suggestions. Seeing things from as many perspective as possible while maintaining their vision is the best way to achieve it.
Zoom-style meetings and remote work are unlikely to go away the near-future and by many accounts are not going anywhere period. Whether in business or in school or another reason, if you’ve participated in a handful of Zoom-style meetings you know that while we see and hear each other there is still a sense of depersonalization when it comes to communicating this way.
In academia where previously the use of emojis, slang and a conversational tone in written communication were frowned upon many are now calling for the use of the colloquial emotional indicators to help heighten the sense that there is a real person “on the other end of the line.”
We will now have to learn about camera angels and how to interact with our audience in a different way. Public speaking and speaking to a camera are two different things. Those who are used to speaking to crowds have trained themselves to continual cast their gaze over the entire audience, making eye contact with as many people as possible. Now we must train ourselves to look at the camera in a casual and pleasing way as this is how we make eye contact during a streaming meeting.
Adding a personal touch when interacting with people inside or outside of our organizations can send a signal loud enough to be heard over all the digital disruption about who we are, what we do, why we do it and what we care about. The naysayers of digital technology worry that we will lose our humanity—this is a way to keep that as a part of your business model.
It is more important than ever that leaders don’t succumb to compassion fatigue with their organization this holiday season. Very little will be normal for your team members so being extra flexible will be the key to happy and productive holiday season in your organization.
Watch your team members. If an individual losing focus or a normally reliable person is dropping the ball this should be cause for concern. Watch out for absenteeism and people missing scheduled meetings and deadlines. If your team is becoming abrupt with each other or you find yourself mediating more conflicts your team could be getting burnt out. Be careful that project groups don’t become silos and that there is trust and understanding between different groups.
Assure your team that you are there to share their joy and ease their burdens despite the unusual circumstances. Your employees should know that it is important for them to assume everyone has the team’s best intentions in mind. They are all there to take care of each other. Remind them of how they have succeeded and overcome adversity in the past. Be really specific and tell actual success stories.
It is important to remind them that while you will always appreciate strength and willpower you aren’t expecting a single person to be a superhero. If someone needs to step back and care for themselves, they should.
Ask them to look beyond the present and make clear your vision for the future.
Also, take care of yourself! You are not a super hero either.
No benefit, salary or gain will ever offset poor leadership in an organization or a bad work culture. Building good engagement with employees comes from having a clear strategy. This strategy should be setup so that it helps them succeed and generates ongoing successes. This is what will cultivate a culture of engagement between leadership and team members.
One way to engage team members in such a manner is to acknowledge their humanity. That they have lives outside of work. That they have families and obligations that may not directly or at all benefit the organization.
It is important to understand that these things matter to everyone from a gas station attendant to a high-level project manager making six figures. To ignore this is to ignore something very basic about humanity. Also, use caution when using family et. al. as a motivational tool—the line between motivation and manipulation feels different for everyone. What is in your comfort zone may not be in someone else’s.
Benefits and perks regarding giving team members room to live their lives and have time for family aren’t strictly speaking free; however, the benefit typically outweighs the cost in terms of team member wellness.
Going beyond the 9-5 means staying flexible means more opportunities and the time to take advantage of them, not less.
Of course, embracing the chaos requires one to keep an accurate schedule whether paper or digital. Write down important dates and times, make lists, set reminders. When working within the rigidity of the 9-5 it is often easy enough to know you’ve got eight hours to get it all done, not so for the small business owner.
Finally, while embracing the differences between the rigid 9-5, which for many is a challenge easily met, on must recognize their own limitations. Yes, do things non-traditionally. Yes, take advantage of more opportunities. Yes, be available for an overseas client at 4am and the local client at 4pm. But. On must recognize their own limitations are it is all for naught.
For many new independents it might be difficult to know, at first, what their limits are. Be prepared to recognize that moment in which although you’ve taken juggling lessons you begin to wish you had four arms.