#SheLeadz: Leading During a Time of Uncertainty

Within the last week, a lot has changed.  The way we operate as a society has shifted in order to make sure that we are take care of ourselves and each other during this pandemic known as COVID-19.  

During this time we have been thrown into different roles and scenarios.  In some cases our leadership roles have demanded that we step our game up in some form or fashion.  For some of us change comes naturally and for some of us it takes time.  However, with the need for confident and consistent leadership we don’t have time to think about making changes. We are in situations where the change is coming faster than we can prepare for. We are in a position where change is going to happen and we as leaders have to get on board quickly. 

One change brought about due to the need to practice social distancing is teleworking. Teleworking has changed the way that we are currently doing business.  In order for the employees within my organization to telework and myself, we had to quickly complete telework training and complete our telework agreements in accordance with the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Source: www.telework.gov).  I must say the training was very insightful and easy to complete.  Once it was complete and approved, it was time for us to take this unfamiliar journey.  Keep in mind that not only is my organization practicing social distancing, the state governor decided that local schools (K-12 and colleges) would close for a couple of weeks as well.  This was also implemented to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.  When I initially started writing this article, school was out for a couple of weeks, that has now been extended for a month.

With this guidance being implemented state-wide, guess what that means?  Not only are there those of us who are unfamiliar with teleworking on a daily basis at home, but now we have our children home with us during the day while we are expected to carry on with business as usual. That’s something that we would not have thought about 2-3 weeks ago.

So, how do we lead confidently and consistently in times of uncertainty to make sure that our employees and teams are successful?  How do we make sure that our employees have what they need when changes are coming faster than we can keep up with?

Here are a few tips that I have come up with to assist in making sure you and your team can succeed when the unexpected arises. 

  1. Remain Calm. With all of the uncertainty during this time. It is important to remain calm as changes come from all directions.  It is also important to make sure that you do not add to the anxiety that some of your team members may have. They already have a lot on their mind.  The last thing they need is a leader who can’t keep it together.
  1. Be Flexible.  Let’s face it.  Things are happening fast and the normal that we are used to is not so normal.  Most of us are teleworking consistently for the first time in our careers.  Some of us are now at home teleworking with our significant others and children at home in the same space.  In some cases technology is overloaded and forcing us to work different shift in order to get the job done.  The key as a leader is to remain flexible.  
  1. Stay Informed. Make sure that you are keeping up to date with your company/organizations information on COVID19.  Only pass on information from credible and official sources.  Now is definitely not the time to pass on opinionated or unreliable information. 
  1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.  Find a way for you and your team members to communicate as a team and as individuals. Keep in mind that some of your team members work best in the morning vs. later in the day.  Some of your employees are more technology savvy than others. Keep these things in mind when communicating. Also, make sure to report any performance, technology or performance concerns/issues.  Doing so will ease communication and performance barriers.
  1. Keep it Real.  Don’t portray to have all of the answers or to know everything.  If you don’t know the answers to questions that are being asked, state that you don’t know and that you will do your best to get an answer.  During times of uncertainty, being honest is key.  
  1. Rest. It is important to remember that we are human and we need rest. We are not robots and should never be expected to work like we are.  Make sure you are encouraging your team to rest as much as they can outside of work and on the weekend.  Rest in important and contributes to your teams productivity.  It is also important to make sure that you practice what you preach and get your rest as well.  You and your team will definitely benefit from it.  

When we take on the task of leadership it is our responsibility to make sure that the people within our care are taken care of. What better way to do that than being confident in who we are, what we have to offer and how we lead. Some things in leadership are taught and some things we learn along the way. Leading in times of unexpected uncertainty is definitely one of them. However, you have every thing that you need inside of you to lead…now let’s lead!

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