Leadership through times of uncertainty

Uncategorized Jul 09, 2020

This is an unprecedented time for leaders around the world.

Both leaders on the international stage and for leaders in the cornerstone sections of society; the ward sisters, supermarket team leaders, delivery managers.

I was honoured to be able to contribute to Stand up Straight, a book on everyday leadership inspired by the lessons of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). It strikes me, that leaders need the lessons from this book, now more than ever. Leadership in times of stress is difficult. But combine this with the remoteness that every responsible Britain is now imposing on themselves and many are faced with a revolutionary task. The remoteness of working is one that the Army has long embraced and solved with one thing: Trust.


How do you simultaneously keep your team inspired, engaged and safe during this time?


Three basic tips:


1) Leadership is about influence. At times like this, your team may be remote and dislocated, you need to utilise influence more than ever. Coaching the best from people in an unusual environment is essential. Hard words can have their place in leadership at times, but when your staff are remote and protected with a physical barrier, you must find a path towards the softer side of leadership; emotional intelligence, collaboration and shared ownership.


2) Be a swan. In the British Army, bird related analogies for leadership are commonplace. The 'Condor moment' relates to surveying your environment before acting, the 'Eagle - eyed' emphasises good observation skills. Being swan-like relates to your role in managing stressful situations. Project calm to your team to fill them with a sense of control and confidence to continue. Just like a swan is graceful and elegant above water, they are hard working and effective below the surface.


3) Loyalty is (a long term investment) built through trust. Teams crave loyalty, consistency and a sense of certainty. The more loyalty that you can give your teams at this time of national crisis, the more they will reward you in the future. Just as we embrace customer service to retain good customers, we must also prioritise staff loyalty. The UK Chancellor's protection of 80% of wages is a very positive step, which safeguards many businesses and staff wages. Before taking drastic action, evaluate how you can demonstrate loyalty to your team and build trust; certainty around jobs, wages, roles will all go some way to help this. Remember: you must NEVER promise what you can not deliver.

 Leadership is a personal thing and everyone has their own style. Take this time to reflect on the aspects of your leadership that you want to improve and start the gradual change that will pay dividends in the long run.

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