Leading Though Uncharted Waters

We expect leaders to lead regardless of circumstances. That’s why they’re leaders – they know how to lead. And now that we find ourselves in uncharted waters – we still expect leaders to lead. So how do we, as leaders, lead our teams through unprecedented crises? What is quarantine teaching us about leadership? And how do we move forward?

Here at ON Point, we know even during crises, the fundamentals of good leadership remain. People look to leaders for consistency in the face of uncertainty. The good news is the leadership skills you’ve been developing throughout your career, you can implement them in a crisis. Here’s what we’ve learned over the past several weeks.


Step up your communication.

Communication is the cornerstone of good leadership. During uncertain times, teams turn to their leaders to show them how to move forward. Make sure they get all the information they need about organizational changes promptly. And be available for questions. When changes happen as rapidly as they are right now, there are bound to be plenty of questions.

You probably already have some workplace protocols in place for extenuating circumstances. Now’s the time to update those protocols. Meet with fellow leaders, reflect on your new circumstances, update your protocols. Compile a list of resources to share with your employees. Include mental health resources, technology resources, and identify key people within your organization who can assist people as they navigate these new times.


Be patient.

Change is stressful. Sudden change is even more stressful. The uncertainty that comes with a situation as fluid as this one is unimaginably stressful. Keep in mind that every person on your team feels the stress – even you. While you can’t expect to eliminate the anxiety, acknowledging the anxiety goes a long way – and patience plays a big role in this.

Everyone has their coping strategies. People will have a hard time managing their feelings, and some folks are overcoming steep learning curves as we move to remote and digital work.

Those leaders who recognize that the changes are affecting everyone, empathize with frustrated team members, and provide resources and solutions when problems arise will be better equipped to move their organizations forward. And it’s always comforting to know that you’re sharing circumstances, don’t be afraid to tell your team that you share their anxieties – without seeming hysterical.


Keep building community.

More than anything, people want a sense of connection. Even folks who enjoy working in solitude. When people work together in an office environment, that sense of connection is automatic. Remote work brings with it a new set of challenges.

But, thanks to technology and apps like Zoom, we’re finding new ways to connect – and we’re using them. As a leader, you can continue to facilitate the connections that build great teams. Set up those Zoom calls. Help folks out who struggle with technology and check in with everyone.


Don’t forget self-care.

Even if you didn’t expect to lead during a time like this, and who did? Your team will continue to look to you for leadership. If you’re working from home, set a schedule for yourself and boundaries for your family so everyone in your household knows when you’re available and when you’re working. Keep to that schedule. As leaders, it’s tempting to “be there” for your team at all hours. Remote work blurs the lines between work time and family time. Your schedule should honor both times – and you should stick to it.

ON Point Next Level Leaders know that a key characteristic of a strong leader is adaptability. By adapting your leadership skills to fit the changing times, and taking the lessons learned during quarantine, you’ll be able to lead your teams through this new situation.