What does leadership mean exactly? The word can conjure many images in the mind.
A political leader. Someone chasing a cause they are passionate about or that is personal to them.
Someone exploring the unknown and the very new. Someone cutting a path through the metaphorical jungle to bring the rest of us along with them.
An executive, CEO or business owner developing their company, their strategies, products and services to beat out the competition.
Leaders are almost always helping themselves, but they cannot be a leader if they are not also helping others do the right things. They set the direction and tone. They build inspirational visions for people to get behind. They create something never before seen.
Leaders also need to be the compass and use their skills in guidance to help others reach the correct destination in a ethical and fair way.
The pandemic has put many leaders in tough positions having to hand out various kinds of bad news to the members of their organizations. So, what can leaders do to stay focused and mentally healthy during the pandemic?
Choose to be compassionate towards others but also yourself. This doesn’t mean making up excuses are letting yourself get away with things. But it does mean you should address yourself kindly. Let yourself have an extra fifteen minutes for silent contemplation or meditation during the day to relax you. Take this lens of goodwill and apply it everything you do and everyone you interact with.
When the future is so uncertain it is hard to hold onto what we are working towards. Take some time to sit down and consider what is important to you and how your work helps you hold on to that. Consider what energizes your and inspires you and why.
While it is easy to look at Covid-19 through a lens of fear and uncertainly it may help to look to at it as an opportunity for innovation. Thinking positively can be difficult in times like these but if you accept what you can’t change and look towards what you can affect positively it might help frame things in a new, refreshing light.
As a leader it is going to happen—your team is going to hit a rough patch. Whether that is caused be internal or external forces there are some things you can and should do as a leader to keep the team empowered and confident.
First off, communication is key. Your instinct might be to sugar coat things but honesty (as usual) is the best route. The confidence and positivity needs to come from the leaders presentation of the information. Make sure to cover what happened or is happening and how it is affect the company specifically or is expected to. What decisions are being made because of the situation. And most importantly what the current plan is going forward.
Next in any situation, if it is causing the goals of the team to be compromised, that means there is a lesson to be learned. Taking some time to figure out how the team wasn’t prepared or what they could do in the future to mitigate a similar issue has the dual benefit of strengthen the team and making them feel like they are in control as they begin to work out problems and solve them.
Reshare your vision for the future. Remind your team why you are all there. Take the time to celebrate large wings but maybe more important take time out to celebrate small wins. The positivity you can generate the better—mostly people want to feel good, give them a reason to.
Maybe most importantly, keep asking your team for honest feedback on how they think things are going. Again, this will give team members control and confidence that they can exert influence of the situation.
Absent leaders are those who enjoy the privileges of leadership yet avoid useful involvement with their team. This style of leadership is marked solely by its destructive nature.
For some team members having a boss that lets you do as you please sound great—especially if they are being bullied or micromanaged by their current leader. However, a top complaint among team members about leaders is when they are absent. Team members tend to be most concerned with what their leaders don’t do.
Being ignored by one’s team leader doesn’t foster a work culture of individual responsibility, rather one of being treated poorly and being alienated. Impact of an absent leader on an organization is more immediate and long lasting than any other kind of destructive leadership archetype as well as the constructive ones. Some even believe it contributes to other organizational issues like increased bullying between team members, role ambiguity, additional stress and possibly even health complaints.
In large organizations, despite their destructive nature, absent leaders often go unnoticed. For example, in one fictional organization two senior team members go over the head of their absent, do-nothing leader to complain. The higher-up they complain to says that they already have a handful of bad leaders to deal with—one who has a substance abuse issue, one who is constantly being sent to HR, and another accused of misusing the organization’s money. This higher-up tells the senior team members they simply don’t have time to deal with someone who isn’t actively making waves and they will just have to deal with it.
While this fictional organization clearly has all kinds of problems it demonstrates how do-nothing, absent leaders can fall between the cracks and be left in their position because their offenses are not overt. So, an absent leader can be left in their position for years, slowly poisoning the organization.
Jody found an interesting article on TheAtlantic.com entitled “What Makes a Good Leader.”
The article states (that in the work place) a good leader is one who is humble (modest and respectful to others.) A humble person is not one who is insignificant or self-demeaning but rather one who leads by example, admits mistakes, and recognize their followers strengths.
Jody hopes that you read this article and take it to heart.