Summary: How can you create a winning situation when it looks like you unintentionally set it up to lose. This is about leadership under pressure. And, in these complex times, pressure is all the time.
Dear Dr. Sylvia,
Well, it finally happened! And it has been awful, horrible, and over the top frustrating.
My whole leadership team requested a Zoom conference call. Inferred, yet never said directly, the whole team was ready to walk out, quit, leave, go away, and never come back.
Subsequently, I felt like a huge truck had just hit me.
To clarify, no one, and I mean no one, gave me a heads up. There was no tap on the shoulder to say “Beware.”
Sometimes doing your best is not enough
However, as fate would have it, they had as their spokesperson the individual who is the biggest rabble-rouser. OMG, it was the one who never keeps their mouth shut and always wants to stir up trouble.
In addition, I will keep what I write in the third person since it is not about gender or race. It’s about my leadership (or lack thereof) and what I should do.
Above all, I need help FAST!
For example, they complained about the workload and said it was impossible to complete all the demands. Many said it made no sense to be planning for the next two years. The complaint was that they have no idea what even the next two months will hold.
In essence, my leadership was failing.
Their rebel leader read the list of complaints, and everyone merely nodded and grumbled.
Once you can see the issues, get help to fix problems
Further, I must admit, I just sat alone after the meeting. I wondered if perhaps I don’t have the smarts or the energy to lead.
“Why,” I asked the silence around me, “Why do I keep pushing them to do more, to be more, to create more?”
Moreover, I thought what I did was for their benefit. I would keep them from letting the fear of lower sales and a dreadful distribution cycle make them miserable. My suggestions would encourage everyone to remain upbeat and happy.
Was I ever wrong!
Okay, enough of my victim response.
Consequently, what advice do you have?
Please get it to me fast.
The vicitm personality can transform to be an explorer
Most importantly, you’re not alone. Now, I know that is like putting a band-aid on a broken arm.
However, it’s true.
So many leaders are busy pumping up the troops by planning beyond these complex and uncertain times.
On one level, this is good.
However, on another, it’s missing the human elements of the present moments.
Without the human aspect, your leadership will remain fragile.
I hope you are ready to explore newer ways for high-level leadership during these challenging times. In fact, I suggest you take the leadership quiz to see where you are strong and where you need to enhance your skills.
Preparing today’s leaders for tomorrow’s challenges
Here are some thoughts just for you. These are ideas to find strategies that need to be included for the future. Also, and this is vital, you must think about maintaining your own personal mental and physical health. This is non-negotiable. It would be best if you did this right here and right now.
When you lead under pressure, here is what I advise:
Keep your expectations real
- Keep your expectations real: Don’t let your fear rule. Be like a Buddhist Monk and live in the present moment. Stay focused on what is right in front of you. This is not a time for a five- year plan or even a three- year plan. Therefore, make sure your staff has the resources to get through today and tomorrow and the next day.
Rethink your “Why”
- Rethink your “why”: Are you in business to make money (of course you are). However, this is not a time to prove to the world how much you can put in the bank. Just make sure you can pay your employees and not have to furlough or lay off people. Stay in the zone of today. I believe your “why”could be more about helping those who work with you feel as much psychological safety as possible. Remember, during these days everyone is getting indigestion or insomnia so don’t add to this.
Pivot and breathe
- Pivot and breathe: When you meet with your staff ask for suggestions that may not be part of your traditional business plan. Have a meeting and do some good, old-fashioned brainstorming. For instance, you never know who will come up with an innovative idea. Someone may surprise you and say “Hey, here’s another way to look at what is going on. This can, make a big positive difference.” Therefore, don’t tell. Rather, ask, and…..include!
Keep priorities short and simple
- Keep priorities short and yes, simple: You need to have a list of maybe four or five key areas to look at that are achievable now. Your team needs to have some wins that will keep them from burning out or from burning up.
Clear the past to free the present
Therefore, I suggest you call another ZOOM meeting at work and thank them for their courage to speak out. Let them know the way they did it was tough on you. Also, let them know you heard them.
They did you a favor. They came to let you know they are more exhausted than disgusted. If they were that disgusted, you would have heard from HR or lawyers about a hostile work setting.
Psychological safety is a core value in today’s work setting
To sum up, please, look at the great work of Amy Edmondson at Harvard Business School about psychological safety and spend some time with your team discussing this.
Also, please consider reading the very last chapter of my book “Don’t Bring It to Work” about how a team can transform conflict into collaboration.
In conclusion, stay strong. You will come out of this with some great learning about yourself, others, and the real meaning of resilience.
To your success,
PS, My new book “Invisible STRESS (It’s NOT What YOU Think!) will be available in September. If you would like to see a preview chapter, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and it’s yours.