We all pretty much know how it is going to go in the coming months. The Covid-19 restrictions are going to continue to lift. The nation will get back to business. Still, people will be hesitant, scared. There will also be restrictions that hold us back—limits on the number of folks in a restaurant or the line at the grocery store. So the economy will improve slowly, unsteadily. Most experts say next year will be a time of explosive growth. Wonderful. But we have to get through the next 7 months first.
So what kind of leadership will get you through to the other side? You already know, but let me remind you:
- Paint the victorious “other side” in brilliant colors. Describe it. Talk about it. Sell it to your team. Describe what Christmas is going to feel like when we have broken through.
- Embody what you want your team to do. Roll up your sleeves. Be on the factory floor. Show up. Eat with folks. Work hard. Let your actions inspire.
- Tell stories. Remind folks of whatever lights their jets. Jesus. The Crimson Tide. The pioneers in whatever state. Our grandparents. Heroes of the firm. Tell stories. Ignite hearts.
- Restore simple pleasures. One CEO friend is showing up at the end of the day with glasses and a bottle of bourbon from his own kitchen. Another is showing up at lunch with a bag of fresh burgers and fries. A company I advise is restoring 10 minute massages for all workers (there’s a socially safe way, apparently) and another is restarting its traditional joke competition. You get it. You’ll know what to do.
- Keep this principle in mind: high tech / high touch. People are isolated from each other and forced to do more work online. They’ll need a corresponding dose of high touch—meaning warm human connection. What does that mean in your leadership? You’ll figure it out.
- Reward people. For everything from showing up to breaking sales records, with everything from cupcakes to big trips. Get your team eager to earn a better future in big and small ways.
- Inspire. Inspire. Inspire. Inspire.
- If you have to lay people off, do it kindly and make sure you narrate it fully to those who remain. People understand the times. They don’t understand cruelty and will not forget. Be kind.
- A thought for you: If someone has to go, perhaps it’s not the traditional targets—lower level staff. Perhaps it’s the highly paid jerk in the C Suite whose been frustrating everyone for years anyway. Again, don’t be cruel. I’m not trying to be cruel here. Just consider where downsizing will really do the most good.
- Finally, consider discarding the petty and privilege-oriented requirements in your firm—if there are any. Don’t ask more from your team and then make their lives difficult with unnecessary requirements that are based on some upper-exec’s ego. I’m being broad on purpose. Take a look at your firm through this lens. You’ll find what needs to go.
Good days really are ahead and we really will be celebrating victories come Christmas and New Year’s. Just lead well to get us to that point. I know you will.