8 Ways Leaders Pull the Team through Tough Times
It’s easy to be a leader when things are hunky-dory. In fact, it can be downright awesome, especially when things are going well; leadership is easy and fun in these situations.
But when your team is in the trenches under fire, or under prolonged stress – such as now with Covid-19 and the new ways of working – is when leadership is hard, especially when these go on and on, seeming to never-end. During these times, you need some serious leadership skills to hold it all together.
In the tough times, leadership skills are critical to effectively lead the team to meet business goals and, for them, to do so smoothly. They also model organizational behavior to set the tone for performance and team culture.
Tough times are when leaders need to dig deep, tapping into their strengths and skills; here are 8 ways that leaders can keep the team cohesive and productive:
1. Grit: Grit is defined as courage, resolve, and strength of character, but the final blend of those characteristics yield a quality that’s perhaps best summarized by one word: toughness. Good leaders hold the team together in tough times by staying committed to the battle.
2. Optimism: While grit mainly relates to the present, optimism is a component of leadership that looks to the future. A leader who has a positive view of the outcome is creating a mental framework for the team to pull through, because they foster the belief that something great is on the other side – mindset maters. If the leader is positive, the team will be, also.
3. Pragmatism: While a leader needs to be gritty and optimistic, they also need to be practical, using intelligence and common sense to navigate their way through the given situation. Having rose colored glasses for the future is great, but having them on as you look at the present can lead to costly mistakes.
4. Selflessness. A bad leader will try to save their own skin, but a good captain goes down with the ship—because he makes sure crewmembers get off first (that said, he doesn’t necessarily have to go down with the ship). A leader owns the outcomes, no matter what – but does give credit to the team.
5. Resolution. Tough times are ripe for dissension and mutiny, but a good leader holds command. Sometimes you have to show tough love and put the proverbial boot down when members of the team start talking smack. Leaders have to make the tough decisions when needed – they will thank you later.
6. Encouragement. A good leader encourages the team during a tough time to help them find the drive to make it through. Sometimes encouragement can be as simple as wandering around the group, patting some backs, and giving smiles or friendly words. Now, with many working from home, reach out personally to connect with employees- ensure the goals are understood, show appreciation for the work they are doing, and give recognition. This will come back tenfold in loyalty and production.
7. Preparedness. A good leader never finds their team unexpectedly thrust into bad times without some prior preparation. A good leader has a plan to cover all the possibilities, and knows what to do if things don’t go exactly the way they were hoping.
8. Bravery. Fear can undermine the entire mission, whether the war is on a battlefield, a sporting field, or the sales floor. A good leader is brave and inspires his team with that bravery.
I’m sure there are more ways leaders can pull their team through adversity, but starting with these will motivate both you and your team through each day to lead effectively and get business done.
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