In recent months leaders all over the world have had to find a new way to lead a somewhat scattered workforce.
For some of us, working from home or having part of our teams work from home, was not unusual. What was unusual was to have ALL of our teams work from home, with the added distraction of the rest of their family being at home with them, all day, every day.
As current chairman of the board of a business that operates in 3 countries with 1,100 employees in the field, and 60+ staff that typically work at our head offices in Dallas Texas and Brisbane Australia, this too has been a big learning curve for our business.
So, as leaders of the business, what did we learn about leading a decentralized workforce?
Here are a few tips that we picked up over the last few months that might help you be more efficient and effective in your business, as we head into a different way of doing business.
Lesson 1 – Create a culture of confidence
As a leader of any business your team reacts to how you act. So, we all need to be seen to be confident about our future. Confident we will find a better way. Confident we will come out of this stronger. Confident we can operate with a somewhat modified business model.
Change is always challenging, in particular under the current circumstances. So, consider some habits and behaviors you might bring into the business to instill a culture of confidence with your team, and lead with that energy every day, in every contact you have with them.
Lesson 2 – Contact vs. content
How often do you sit at your desk penning the perfect email? Or writing the most articulate text? As leaders, we don’t have time for that now. The world is moving far too quickly, and every day we are faced with new and different challenges, some of which we’ve never seen before.
Right now, your teams need to hear from you, often. They need open, honest, real leadership and they need to feel that energetic contact. Call, FaceTime, send a short video, or jump on a quick Zoom call, just to let them know you are ‘present’. Your interaction does not need to be lengthy, or even have a purpose other than to connect and make human contact in a time when we are all feeling somewhat separated.
Lesson 3 – Create rhythm & routine
Now that you’ve set up a stronger platform for energetic engagement with your team, move to create some habits and behaviors that support that culture, and your new communication protocols.
It could be as simple as a habit of calling random team members at certain times of the week. For me, I try to make these calls informal, so it does not feel like a ‘review’ or that I am checking up on them, more checking in with them.
You don’t need to set your watch by these interactions, but they do need to be consistent, so they become part of the fabric of the business, because your rhythm as a leader helps create routine for your team.
Lesson 4 – Reinvent your strategy
Communication is the key to good leadership, and the delivery of a good strategy. Now that you’ve reinvented your communication protocols, it’s time to reinvent your business strategy to accommodate them. Because the strategy you had on the way into this, will not be the same on the way out of this.
Even if you are in the process of getting the band back together over the coming days and weeks, take a moment to consider what habits and behaviors you’ve learnt in the last few months that would remain relevant in the business moving forward.
While many of us have felt that the last few months have been disruptive and challenging for our businesses, in part, it may also bring out the best in us if we take a broader look at what’s changed, and what’s remained the same.
As leaders we all need to stay focused on the opportunities can we spot in the obstacles, because that’s the mindset that will continue to give all of our teams the energy they need to bounce back, regardless if they are together, or apart.