Today, leaders need to guide their team through the crisis not only professionally, but also virtually, because working out of the home office has become a necessity for most. Online collaboration tools enable employees and executives to connect, work, and exchange ideas. But managing virtual teams and leading them through the crisis at a distance remains a challenge for executives. This is not the first (and probably not our last) crisis we are experiencing. We can learn from the past.
So here are our eight leadership rules in times of the Corona virus:
If we want to be there for others, if we want to show strength, we must think of ourselves first and foremost. It is only when we look forward calmly that we can be there for others. Despite stress and deadlines, try to find time for yourself. If you can and care, go out for a walk, jog, dance... You can also meditate, laugh, play at home. There are no limits to your imagination. If Mandela has managed to jog in his cell every day, you too will find ways to switch off and stay mentally strong.
Step 4 is about creating a sense of normality. But the actual times are far from normal. For many, existential questions come up. Concerns for elderly or sick family members, fear for the job, worries about one's own health, your employees are very anxious. Have an ear for them. Don't just be available in official meetings. Managing from a distance also means that you should use chats and (web) calls to have personal, informal conversations.
To communicate openly does not mean to play down the crisis, but also not to play up. Your employees have understood the seriousness of the hour, but what interests them: what measures will you or the management take? Or which decisions have you made? Be accessible and take the time to make your decisions clear to all.
Communication works in both directions: make sure your employees have their say, that their questions and fears can be addressed. In the crisis, a virtual team needs honest communication that calms down, addresses problems and does not trivialize them.
Most of us experience for the first time what it means to have a limited range of motion. People will have cabin fever. Therefore, have clear tasks and goals ready for everyone. Continue your jour fixes. Show that everyone is pulling together, that everyone is working jointly to overcome the crisis.
But what changes is how you lead. When leading at a distance, control is not the solution, but trust. Experience shows that employees in virtual teams are more independent and much more self-organizing. Give yourself and your team the organizational solutions so that you can lead digitally, and your team can continue to work virtually.
It is easy to forget that the crisis will eventually end. Revise your strategy to reflect the changed situation. How will you set up your team, your processes? What habits do you want to maintain after the crisis? Think about ways to engage your employees in these discussions. Let your team also think about whether and how they want to work virtually in the future.
The crisis should not make general staff management obsolete. Virtual leadership means continuing to perform your personnel management tasks. And the given is: already now, and after the crisis no stone will remain on the other. So have feedback conversations with your employees. How well are they able to work digitally? How well do their current skills match the skills that will be necessary in the future? Now is the time to take advantage of the variety of online training offerings and prepare your team for the future.
Leading in the crisis also challenges you as a change leader. A change leader leads through the change. He or she motivates, is a mediator, a role model, but above all he is a designer who makes decisions. And importantly, you are a designer who also makes uncomfortable decisions. Stand by the decisions. Try not to justify them and stay honest. To guide your employees in these times of crisis, you need to keep the trust of your employees and be perceived as a leader.
Perceive the crisis as an opportunity. The line between exaggerated optimism and honest opportunity is thin. But blowing tribulation doesn't help you and your team. So always try to see both sides of the coin. Has the crisis meant that virtual work has finally made its way into your work? Wonderful! So, you make sure to keep the new, positive aspects also after the crisis. And how did you master previous crises? Concrete examples help to make positivism pictorial and to better see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Staying positive also means saying thank you regularly to everyone! Your employees do work hard now, both mentally and operationally. They manage family, work, health and still try to do their job somehow. Show your thanks, give positive feedback. And maybe you will also find occasions for virtual celebrations such as birthdays, milestones, etc.
As you've seen, the role of a change leader during the Corona virus goes beyond the traditional leadership of employees and teams. New skills are required, which are revealed differently depending on the personality. Use our change management coaching expertise to strengthen your leadership skills or that of your management team.