Leaders are always expected to be well-rounded and have not only excellent communication skills but also psychological knowledge to be able to organize their teams, help resolve their inner problems, and of course to stay respected and followed. This is why learning new and trying new practices are always important for any person in chief. We’ve selected the best recommendations of eminent sources for you to boost your knowledge and advance your leadership skills.
In this paper, Nancy Duarte looks at today’s crisis as a challenge to improve your leadership style and help your employees become more engaged and motivated. Based on her own experience, she suggests the following communication techniques that can be applicable to this end:
- Stay involved and caring through various delivery channels. Informing your teams about the company’s state of things, plans, and changes is crucial if you want them to trust you and stay committed.
- Encourage your team members to ask questions. They can feel shy but there’s no doubt, they have them. You can even use a special polling platform where everyone can pose a question, or let them ask during individual or group online calls.
- Share your insights, emotions, and thoughts with your people by telling stories. Storytelling is a powerful mechanism that can engage and motivate your teams. By telling you can make them feel they belong here, remind them of their significance to the company, and many more. Just try it.
- Find your corporate symbols to create something unique and special that would remind you that you’re a real team.
- Emphasize your company vision and the way it transforms depending on circumstances. For your people to stay motivated and engaged, you should make them know what you think about your common journey.
Matt Granados touches upon the phenomenon of motivation and states that it’s not an inborn quality but a state of mind that can be changed due to some reasons. In the author’s opinion, money and fear-based motivation are the two things that don’t work as true motivators. He provides the scheme for motivation development:
- Understanding every individual’s motivation catalyst is the first step in your motivating strategy. There are four kinds of motivation catalysis, which are acknowledgment, connectivity, freedom, and support.
- The second step you should take is associating the prevailing value with employee’s tasks. This means that a person gets a desirable reward for successful completion of the task.
- Dedicate some time and energy to identify each member’s values. You can track your teams’ inner motivation progress by preparing several questions for them and asking them every week during face-to-face conversations.
Jeff Hyman considers the challenges leaders are facing today because of the necessity to shift to remote working. Office and remote team management has its features and for many executives, it may seem quite complicated to guide while being physically far from their subordinates. The author suggests the following recommendations for successful remote leadership:
- Get a clear idea and view what and why your company is working on. During this period of forced remote work, your company’s goals and priorities might have changed. Don’t try to guess whether or not your employees understand this shift and its consequences. Discuss it and make sure they clearly see the general idea and identify the way to reach the goal.
- Overcommunicate. You should shift to another regime when working with a remote team. Choose the most convenient communication channel depending on the type of a message you want to deliver, the time of your messaging, and the load of the person you want to communicate your message to.
- Balance the micromanagement and entrusting. There are tasks and situations where your close attention is needed but on the other hand, why have you hired the people whose skills and commitment are questionable to you? When working remotely, you should give more space and responsibility to your teams, try to be more trustworthy.
- Motivate your team to succeed. This involves making sure every team member has everything needed to perform their duties efficiently. Discussing needs and pain points with your subordinates during individual meetings is a great way to show you care and help them establish a comfortable environment while working remotely.
Art Petty, the author of the paper, suggests the following 7 tips for managers to succeed when leading their new teams:
- Dwell on the questions you can ask yourself as a manager about the team you’re going to lead. Prepare the list of questions the answers to which would help you understand their strong and weak points better. You probably won’t find answers to all the questions immediately, but it will be a good thing for you to get prepared for managing the team.
- Talk to your peers about their work and perspectives. Try to establish connections with them.
- Talk to your team members. Don’t be focused on your own persona. Of course, you should introduce yourself to the team but then interact with them demonstrating your interest in their not only professional qualities but also their individual characteristics.
- Try to get feedback from your team to understand their corporate culture, needs, and pains.
- Be involved and ready to help. Prepare a plan and conduct face-to-face or online meetings. After you get answers to your questions from every employee individually, you’ll probably get a clear picture of your further activities.
- After analyzing the output of your face-to-face conversations, make conclusions and summarise your findings to improve the state of things within the company.
- Make up a flexible plan of interacting with the whole team and members individually. Depending on the prior practice, make corresponding conclusions about whether this practice was comfortable for everyone, and if it was not, incorporate your own changes.
In their paper for Gallup, Jillian Anderson and Brian Brim offer considering the following insights to make your teams more efficient and engaged in the time of disruption:
- Apply an individual approach to every team member to define their strengths and the way they react to uncertainty.
- Remember that everyone is different and they differently respond to crisis and changes. An ‘adaptable’ kind of person has a very few things in common with a ‘disciplined’ one.
- Adapt to people with different mindsets in regard to reaching company goals. You should make your employees understand how to work and achieve their aims considering the changes and disruptions that have taken place in their work due to the isolation.
Besides, ask your team two questions to understand how they cope with this stress caused by remote work, and how they see their perspective in their professional journey. The first one is what they need based on their strengths, and the second one is what they bring to help overcome these difficult times based on their strengths.
Susan Madsen, in her paper for Forbes, considers the role of critical reflection in the development of leadership, and suggests the following research-based strategies to improve these skills:
- Make notes in a reflective journal. This is a great means to ‘talk to yourself’ while waiting for the plane or for the appointment. In this way, you can use this time with benefits for your self-development. You can write long stories or just make short notes and remarks, whatever you like. Find the best way to express your thoughts.
- Ask yourself questions using one of the techniques: you can make up your own questions, use the ORID technique, or any other methods. The most important thing is finding the most suitable one for yourself.
- Find a partner to discuss vital matters with. You can even use the same questions as in point 2 but the difference is that now you have a listener. He or she shouldn’t even comment on your reflections or give recommendations, just listen to you.
- Arrange group meetings for reflexive discussions. It’s up to you to find the best one for your team and modify it to your needs.
Francesca Gino and Dan Cable believe following these simple tips will help you to support your team during the pandemic, when everybody is stressed and concerned about the future:
- Switch your leadership to the servant-based style. When working remotely, make sure your team members feel your support and care. Don’t forget to ask them not only about their work progress but also how they feel and if they need something.
- Assist in identifying your employees’ personal goals. During the period of forced isolation many people might get confused about what their purposes are. Your task as a leader is to help them find the aim and build a clear journey to reach it. Communication is the first step to let them know you care and want to assist.
- Help them reveal their strengths. Spare some time every week to talk to your employees individually about their strengths and weaknesses at work and orient them on how they could manage them to get as much benefit as possible. Self-reflection is a great practice for everyone, regardless of the job title.
Are you working in the office or from home now? Have you noticed any differences between face-to-face and remote leadership?