Decisive Leadership for Recovery and Renewal in Q3: Part 1

The unassailable business leadership lesson taught by the COVID crisis is: Your people need you more than ever – and you need them more than ever. This mutual reliance speaks to the need for clear and inclusive decision making. Yet, privately, business owners and leaders are confessing that the fog of uncertainty has led to an indecisiveness that affects their people’s engagement, focus and performance.

The results of a recent survey we conducted found that business owners and leaders realize a need for quicker decisions – and that they know the consequences of delaying decision-making affects their staff and critical results. Decisiveness instills confidence, provides clarity and lessens the anxiety and emotion!

As businesses open up in many areas, leaders are seeking concrete methods to steer their people toward recovery and renewal. Let’s examine five practices for leading your people forward and lessening the emotion in the decision-making process.

  1. Be a Listener
  2. Leverage Strengths
  3. Build Strong Team Goals
  4. Employ Team Problem-Solving
  5. Set Clear Direction

For this article, we’ll take a deep dive with the first three practices.

Be A Listener – More than ever, you need to learn about the effects of the crisis on your people, the market, your competitors and your customers. We do this by asking good questions and then listening to understand and learn before responding.

It is this learning that will open the doors to new ideas and solutions to craft a business path forward. If not in person, set up consistent phone or video chat schedules with each person and as a team. Learn how they are doing. Ask: “What are you learning from our people, our clients and the market?” Then ask: “What do you need in order to be successful?”  Ask for their input to solve problems enabling your business to move forward.

Here is what the CEO of a Home Health Company did to facilitate the process.  “I set up morning huddles with my management team. Connecting each day at the same time allows me to learn directly from my team what is going on with my people and customers. My aim is to ask, listen and learn. This has enabled me to know what is most important in the market and with my people.”

Leverage Strengths – During times of uncertainty emotions run high and business leaders tend to focus on issues and weaknesses. Certainly, meeting challenges and addressing business frailties are important, yet do not forget those things you do well as an organization – your strengths. It is the strengths of your products, your mission, your processes and your people that carried your company to your current business success.

Discuss with your teams the specific actions that you do best. Ask: “How do we position our strengths to address problems and take advantage of marketplace opportunities?” This discussion will invigorate your people and lessen the anxiety associated with making decisions.

For example, working with the management team of one client we listed their best attributes and then determined how these strengths match up to the opportunities in the market. This led to a Q3 business plan focused on restoring the direction the company was taking before the COVID crisis.

Build Strong Team Goals – People work best in groups or teams. Working in a team environment builds spirit, togetherness and accountability. So often groups of people “step up” their effort for the sake of the team. Teams help leaders fuse individual traits and attributes into a complementary collection of strengths – minimizing weaknesses in the process.

Setting common goals is the glue that binds a work group into a team and provides team purpose. Goals bind responsibility and become the core source for collaboration and decision making. Ensure your company and team goals are specific, measurable and relevant to the mission of your organization. From my experience the top reason a group of people working together does not succeed is due to a lack of established, common goals. Then, tie performance evaluations of team members to these specific goals.

Through the COVID situation I have consistently seen companies get away from their focus on goals. “We have been in crisis mode” is often the lament. Understood. Now is the time to reestablish your organization-wide goals and to raise the commitment bar to strong performance. Use goals as the rallying cry to focus, re-motivate and align activity for a restorative third quarter.

These three essential leadership behaviors will help you to ease the anxiety of your people, lessen reactivity, build trust and open your people up to move the discussion from emotion to action.

In the second article, we’ll focus on two leadership practices to improve decision making:  First, a guide for team problem solving and second, a sound and elegant method to provide clear direction for your people and teams.

Larry Prince is the CEO of PrinceLeadershipTM, a New Jersey-based business consultancy that works with middle market companies to create growth and sustainability. Contact: Mobile: 973.670.6304 larry@princeleadership.com

Leadership stock photo by ronstik/Shutterstock