Leading from a distance doesn't come naturally to most of us. If we can't see the process always in front of us, it can be hard to trust there is still a process in place.
However, right now, many leaders have to learn how to do just that.
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the U.S., it came before any of us could have possibly prepared for it. Many had to respond rapidly and were thrown into a remote-work situation that isn't always easy to adapt to, especially for leaders.
For those of us who are interactive in our leading, this situation of social distancing can be very unnerving.
During this national crisis and an unstable economy, learning to lead in the midst of it all is nothing short of challenging. But learning how to navigate this season will sharpen our skills as leaders and team players, if we lean into it.
Here are six practical steps to lead your team during this time of social distancing:
- Get in a set routine. Maintain a schedule at home, just as you would inside the office. By creating a plan that you can stay within, you will quickly find that you can be even more productive with this time of remote work.
- Create weekly check-ins with your team. Set weekly phone calls or Google Meets to keep your organization on the same page. This weekly time allows you to hold your team accountable for their work and helps everyone stay on track.
- Create a new order for your unique setting. Consider methods or habits that may need to be adjusted. There may be things you would delegate to one person that someone else is better suited to handle remotely. Maybe you typically sit at your office desk but feel restless sitting at home and would be more productive standing. What works for you and your team in an office may not always serve you best in a remote setting.
- Use this time to explore new possibilities. There may be a team member with a promising idea or pitch who you've yet to meet with. Maybe you've wanted to take online classes to sharpen your business or personal skills. Now is the time to create and innovate for both your business as well as your own personal development.
- Communicate clearly with your team, even when you are uncertain. It can be comfortable in times of uncertainty to simply avoid communicating. Even when we are faced with the unknown, to be effective leaders we must continue to engage our teams about the issue at hand. When times feel unclear, often we need to interact even more than usual.
- Trust your people. During this time, distance can cause us to question if we can depend on our teams to get the job done. When there is no structure, there is a reason for concern. But when practical steps (like those above) are applied, you must trust your team to see through their individual goals.
Already, the art of leadership is a balancing act. This current circumstance of social distancing is causing us to learn an entirely new approach to leading.
If we remain focused and resilient, we may find that we will come out of this season more in tune as leaders than ever before.
Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the President of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and is the author of "Framework Leadership." A champion of innovative educational design, Ingle is the president of one of the fastest growing private universities in the nation. As president, Ingle founded the American Center for Political Leadership at the university and is also a founding member of the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Before becoming Southeastern's president in 2011, Ingle held leadership positions in higher education and the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Ingle is the author of several leadership books and the creator of the Framework Leadership podcast. He currently serves on the board of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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