Leadership in a changed world - YOU, The Leader

In the months to come, many organisations will be navigating a rapidly changing landscape, but with change comes the potential for new and exciting ways to achieve the extraordinary.

As our businesses emerge from this global pandemic, it is not just how we lead our team members to maintain and grow their capabilities, your own leadership ability will also need reinforcement to ensure we underpin the values and mindset critical to achieving the kind of growth and fighting spirit we will now need to see. 

The key behaviours of a Leader

As a leader, there are key behaviours that help us to define and exhibit the working practices we seek to establish and reinforce in our teams. 

  • Create a shared vision and agree new expectations – Finding the best way to move forward.
  • Model the way with a human touch – Be accessible, visible and empathise with how people are feeling.
  • Focus on solutions – Actively solve problems and encourage a solutions mindset.
  • Enable each other to act virtually – Understand what people are working on, empowering, encouraging and motivating them to act in the best way.
  • Praise often and celebrate success – Remind and reinforce what success looks like. Find new ways to celebrate success in the new world.

You are vital to the success of your team and the wider business overall. You are relied upon to nurture emotional resilience within your teams and inspire the motivation and determination to explore new possibilities in the face of adversity.  To ensure our organisations thrive, we need leaders who can see and enact a new future.

 
Building blocks in a row spelling the work change

Where are we going? 

First, we must recognise the work we have done throughout these difficult times, acknowledge the current state of businesses and understand how the future of work has changed. In this way, we can create a shared vision for the future and agree new expectations. 

We now know what true disruption feels like and we have all had to adapt to agile working environments with little to no preparation or plan in place to help us navigate the uncertainty. Now, we can redefine what success looks like and acknowledge how it is different now from what is was before. 

With the clear communication of objectives and goals and defining what the measures of success are we can inspire motivation, accomplishment and drive ensuring we are all working towards this common goal as a supportive and united team. 

Peak performance under pressure

Exerting the right amount of pressure upon ourselves and our teams is crucial to achieving effective long term, high performance. As discussed in a 2019 published research article by Marie S. Mitchell et al,2 there is a direct correlation between the level of pressure we feel and the performance we achieve. 

Experiencing a level of pressure that stretches us out of our comfort zone can energise us and spark us into action, this is where we will find that we are operating in our peak performance zone experiencing a boost of energy, a feeling of drive and a sense of purpose enabling us to operate at our highest level of productivity. 

It is unrealistic to believe we can always operate in our maximum performance zone, periodically we need to recharge in order to re-energise. If we feel we are under too much pressure or that the challenges we are facing are too much, the stretch we feel can quickly turn into strain. That strain can affect our concentration levels, our decision-making skills, our effectiveness and our overall wellbeing. This is true for you in the same way it is true for your team. 


Building resilience in yourself and your team

Every day can bring a new challenge and an increase in pressure, how we bounce back from the challenges we encounter and the resulting fluctuations in our performance is down to resilience. Put simply, resilience is our capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

Acknowledging how you feel enables you to recognise and accept when you are experiencing a problem or in need of recovery. It is impossible to operate at peak performance for long time periods without experiencing burnout, so take regular moments to reflect on how you are feeling. Many leaders admit they have felt overwhelmed, stressed, de-motivated, worried, pressured, challenged, un-enthusiastic, frustrated, unsure and out of control throughout the lockdown period. It is important to be in-tune with how you are feeling so that you know when and what action can aid resilience.

Taking control with actions is an excellent way to start counteracting feelings of worry and anxiety.

Key actions for tackling negative feelings

  • Nurture a positive view of yourself 
  • Identifying a positive takeaway or achievement each day can help to keep negative feelings and doubt at bay. 
  • Cherish social support and interactions
  • Reconnecting with colleagues, even if it is just a quick catch-up call to talk about your day and what challenges you are tackling can really help with feelings of isolation.
  • Take positive actions
  • Create lists of things you need to do and enjoy the satisfaction of ticking each one off as you work through. 
  • Create a routine for your new working practices
  • Research shows1 that it takes 66 days to form a new daily habit, so for your new working regime to become second nature, consistency is key.
  • Take the opportunity to grow
  • Identify self-development opportunities and set out a plan to work on them a bit at a time.
  • Hold on to the good things
  • There have been positives to lockdown, more time spent with the family, more time for hobbies, home improvements and to learn new skills.
  • Try to hold on to this work/life balance and build it into your new working structure.
  • Re-define what success looks like.
  • Set realistic goals, define success and remind yourself of them often.

Resilience is a skill that needs to be practiced, we can all take active steps like these to build our resilience and develop a growth mindset. Each time you overcome a challenge your self-confidence improves reinforcing positive behaviours, thoughts and actions and building your resilience. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, overwhelmed by work or feeling worried and anxious, it is this resilience that will provide the ability to refocus and get back on track quickly.

A note reading Dear Future I'm Ready

Growth mindset tips for building resilience at work

  • Problems are an opportunity to learn and grow
  • Avoid making a drama out of a crisis
  • Celebrate your successes, the big wins and the small ones
  • Keep a realistic perspective
  • Practice optimism
  • Be a source of positivity

References

1 Research article: “How are habits formed” Phillippa Lally [July 2009] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejsp.674

2 Research article: Can You Handle the Pressure? The Effect of Performance Pressure on Stress Appraisals, Self-regulation, and Behaviour. Marie S. Mitchell, Rebecca L. Greenbaum, Ryan M. Vogel, Mary B. Mawritz, David J. Keating. Published Online: 18 Apr 2019 https://journals.aom.org/doi/full/10.5465/amj.2016.0646


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Our Leadership in a Changed World articles explore the framework of strong, consistent, informed and inspiring leadership. This article, You – The Leader is just the beginning, the five key topics that make up the series provide ideas, suggestions and actionable insights that can be explored and implemented at every level.

  • You – The Leader
  • Your Team
  • Creating a High-Performance Environment
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