I used to think that great leaders have answers. Now I think good leaders grapple with difficult questions, especially those that avoid easy answers.
I started the company a few months before the pandemic. Since then, almost every month there has been a large-scale world event, natural disaster, or significant social movement. Whenever something big happens, some CEOs have a voice. Some don’t. And Twitter comments for both groups.
I don’t think there is a “right” way to lead in difficult times. Instead, the most important thing as a leader is to find a style that is authentic to you. And This is what the team needs. Here are some guidelines to help you find your own style during difficult times.
First, put on an oxygen mask. It sounds obvious, but the world affects you too. Your job as a leader is to absorb the stress of your team. But you can only do it if you have the resilience and energy. In tough times, I double up with tools like meditation, executive coaching, therapy, and the real basics like sleep, exercise and time with loved ones.
Please share the process as well as the answer. do you say something Would you like to share the organization you donated to? Calm down and keep going? Talk to the team about how you are grappling with these questions. You can start a conversation and share what your team is looking for in you. It also helps people know that they are not alone in difficult times.
Resource iteration: Difficult times are when teams need to remember their resources. Even if it feels like you’ve passed on ERGs, mental health tools, and other resources, now is the time to remind your team that they are supported and make them easily accessible.
Differences allowed: One of our team members will find it truly soothing to talk about what’s going on in the world during the first few minutes of a Zoom call. For others, it can be an energy drain. There is no perfect way to deal with these valid differences. Instead, build a culture in which people feel comfortable speaking their preferences, providing feedback, and assuming positive intentions when colleagues take a different approach.
I’ve read many surveys with stats like “over 50% of millennials want their company to take a stand on social issues”. That’s really interesting, but it also means that a lot of people don’t want their company to take a stand. Not everyone, even a small company, can agree on the right approach.
Remember, your “big” one doesn’t belong to anyone else. Based on a million different factors, what I consider to be the most important and urgent news may not be the most important to others. I have been passively interested in the war in Afghanistan since enlisting in 2010 because I served in the military. When the US forces pulled out last year, it suddenly felt like other Americans were paying attention and they had a really strong opinion. In addition to watching a horrific human tragedy unfold, it suddenly felt strange for people to ask about war.
It can be frustrating to feel that you need to pay attention to things that people aren’t paying attention to. But it’s also an opportunity to broaden your perspective and learn what your peers are paying attention to.
There is an incorrect answer: A performative position is not the way to go. “The answer” is really about the process of feedback, listening, and accounting for individual differences. However, there is an incorrect answer, and it is a formal process of asserting a performative position. It will feel like this. When something goes wrong in the news cycle, senior management gets together without input from the rest of the company, saying, “You have to say something, or it’ll look weird,” and then make a statement. on social media. At the end of the news cycle, we resume our work as usual.
There is no easy checklist to help you get through this unprecedented time, but we hope these guidelines will help you and your team find the approach that works best for you. Through an iterative process of identifying and learning how to be effective with your team, you build a feedback culture that is the foundation of a healthy company culture.
It may seem intimidating to share your uncertainty with your team, but in my opinion Paul English “People will follow their confidence, but they will stick to their vulnerabilities.”
Roxanne Petraeus Ethena.