As you confront change, the most critical thing you must do as leader is to support the cohesiveness of your executive team.
This means that they must be aligned and coordinated in their thinking and actions.
Having a plan of action is the rally cry to move forward together, but it isn’t the answer.
During the current COVID crisis, I’ve reached out to several of my former clients to see how they are faring. Most report what is probably familiar to you: shock and paralysis, replaced by a scrambling to redirect resources and keep business going.
I talked to Bob, CEO of a software tech company, about three weeks ago. He expressed great frustration around being stuck in place.
“We are so busy putting out fires,” he said. “And they all need extinguishing. But how do we move forward?”
“That’s the question, Bob,” I said. “Most of the world is caught up in a mode of urgency and this is their current way of operating. But they are missing the boat entirely.”
“I hear you, Patti,” he answered. “But how do I get my team to move forward? We have an interim plan – you taught me the value of plotting a short-term direction in times like these. But I’m not seeing the action of which I know they are capable.”
“Bob, having your interim plan is the first of three things your team needs to move, and move quickly,” I said. And I outlined the following for him.
Your team needs a short-term, interim plan that plots a clear direction. Centering the plan around a particular theme will serve as a galvanizing rally cry to bring the team together and help them to coordinate more easily. Remember to ask yourself what will best serve your customers at this time and position your business to meet the undefined future.
How well do team members trust each other? Revisit your trust charter and facilitate discussion around what the team needs more or less of from each other in order to trust and be able to count implicitly on each other in this critical time.
3. Replacing effectiveness with efficiency.
In times of transition or change, people seek comfort in the familiar. This means that you and your team members may find you are focusing on being efficient instead of being effective, because being busy feels like you are moving ahead when you really may not be. Once you have determined your interim plan, be sure to identify those other projects, tasks and activities that lie outside the plan parameters. Decide how you want to handle these in light of the current clime and be ruthless about holding each other accountable.
Bob called back a few days ago to report that moving through these steps did the trick. He first worked with the team to revisit the trust charter to discuss what everyone needed from each other in order to take action. The team then performed a quick audit of activities and identified some of those that needed to be placed on pause. And finally, Bob and the team communicated the interim plan to the entire employee base and have pledged to bring weekly updates on progress to the organization.
Which of these three things does your team need to focus on in order to move forward more effectively? Providing a unified direction and deeper conversations around what is needed to trust more will open doors to a much richer future.
DO OTHERS REALLY TRUST YOU?
Learn the two vital parts to trust and how they can help you become a more highly effective leader.
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.