It has been said that in times of stability management is needed, and in times of difficulties and chaos leadership is essential. Today we are experiencing a time of time of difficulty and chaos few have seen before.
Now more than ever, there is a need for positive, compassionate, purposeful leadership. We must be sensitive and supportive of those we lead. As we move to re-engage or re-energize employees in our businesses and learn how to obtain results in an environment amid a pandemic, we may have to dust off and use the skills we may have allowed to get rusty when times were easier. Also, we may have to develop new skills that stretch us as employees, managers, leaders and individuals.
Due to the long period of prosperity and ease of communicating, there may be skills and approaches, which we have not had, that we must consider. If you would like to improve your ability to get results now in these turbulent times and in the future no matter the conditions, building or improving your leadership skills has never been more important.
There is a great deal of debate over leadership skills. Some say leadership is really not a skill, but really the innate qualities of the individual that make him or her a leader. The problem with this premise is if I accept that I can not learn what is needed to be a leader and limited to my God-given talents. Others say that leadership is identifiable and specific skills that can be learned. The truth, however, lies somewhere in the middle. It is not a finite set of skills, such as management skills, but it is a consistent set of traits and skills that enable you to behave in a certain way.
While some people may be blessed with traits that naturally make them leaders, no matter how much we are blessed with, we can work and improve our skills and make our leadership more effective. While some may have not been blessed with the natural traits that people regard as leadership traits, they can learn the skills, approaches and techniques that people respond well to in leadership situations.
The challenge before us today is to move forward both personally and professionally with purpose and compassion. We must become productive without losing our sense of compassion. To do this I suggest the following actions to lead positively.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE EMOTIONS
The fear and uncertainty that people are feeling today will not go away quickly. Allow employees to state their feelings. The workplace is not one where people usually feel comfortable dealing with emotions. However, these emotions are still present. While few of us are trained as a counselor, you must be sensitive to the range of emotions that people are experiencing and be sure to respond if needed.
REFER TO EMPLOYEE ASSSISTANCE
If your company has an Employee Assistance Program, refer the person who is having difficulty. If your company does not, there are programs available through local government, social service agencies, and church organizations that are very beneficial.
It is easy to become distracted about the current news reports or conjecture about what will happen in the future. This energy, if focused away from the job and productivity, can be draining and lead problems. Therefore, it is best to focus on small projects or with larger, on-going projects, break them down into smaller pieces, and set deadlines for employees to work toward. By narrowing the focus and speeding up the movement from one task or job to another, we can stay on track and have a sense of accomplishment. By focusing on accomplishing specific tasks or certain productive during the day or even shorter periods of time, they can experience a sense of accomplishment.
Any time a person’s confidence is shaken, he or she needs positive reinforcement. You as a leader have the unique opportunity and obligation to provide positive reinforcement. In addition to being cordial and staying in tune with employees, it is important to take every opportunity to reward positive actions and successes. Don’t wait until everything is done, reward the steps along the way.
If you manage younger workers, at-risk workers they could more affect. It may be the first time they have experienced such difficult times or felt this level of vulnerability. Even in good times, we have a tremendous responsibility to lead with purpose and compassion. Today your responsibility is even greater.
Take the time to evaluate how you lead others. Make a commitment to not only become a more skilled leader, but a more compassionate and purposeful one.
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