Navigating the StormPosted on October 7, 2020
Navigating the Storm
Leaders today are faced with the enormous challenge of navigating their teams through the Covid 19 storm. McKinsey consultants Hayagreeva Rao and Robert Sutton (July 2020) describe the risk of staying suspended in a state of fear, whereas it is hope that you need in order to continue.
It is comparable to the situation I had on a family sailing trip when our kids were young, encountering rough weather. It was imperative for us as the parents to keep functioning, to deal with their own feelings of panic and fear, in order to protect our children, because those feelings won’t do anything to help them. Instead, we needed to accept the situation and deal with it, steadfastly and with hope. Afterwards, we were able to talk to our children about what happened, what worked and what did not, and what we had all learned from the experience.
Rao and Sutton pointedly write about the importance for leaders to take responsibility for their teams.To care about their well-being, as well as their performance. ‘The shop needs to stay open’, or the boat needs to keep sailing, if not you become a victim to the waves and wind. You can not afford to get stuck in panic – or freeze – mode, because it won’t allow you to help your team to go forward. Self reflection helps managers realize this. Difficult and courageous decisions are often needed to be able to move on.
It is vitally important to show your team that you care about everyone’s well-being. You need to use comforting, encouraging, inspiring words when you talk to them. This might take some practice, as you might not be used to this. Through the raging winds and the pounding waves, the children in the boat constantly needed to hear their parents’ voices speak reassuring, comforting, encouraging words. It allowed them, no matter how small they were, to do the things that lay within their power, such as reading maps, providing dry clothes and supporting each other. In turn, it allowed the parents to do what needed to be done: keeping control of the boat and navigating it to calmer waters.
As parents, it is natural to feel responsible for your children, for they depend on you. For a manager, this might be uncharted territory. It demands that you step out of your comfort zone of planning, guiding and knowing. Your team members depend on you, however, and on the decisive way you handle the present stormy situation. They depend on the compassion you show for their feelings. And in turn, you depend on them, on the way they use their mind- and skillset. That is teamwork.
‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’. That is what resilience is all about. We know how to help you enhance your resilience, so you can navigate your team into calmer waters.
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