2020 Leadership – What to do now…

What you do has far greater impact than what you say.

Let’s face it, you and your team have been thrown more than a few curve balls this year. 2020 is going to be in the history books for a lot of reasons, but for business classes, they’ll be studying how companies reacted to the impacts and what it took to survive (or thrive).

Fundamentally your job as a leader hasn’t changed, you are responsible for setting and communicating the vision, simplifying things and creating an environment where your team can succeed consistently. But with all of the changes in 2020, it’s worth taking a look at some things that may require more attention than they would in a ‘normal’ year.

Regardless of the industry that you’re in, you are dealing with a lot of change in 2020… and that’s likely to get worse before it gets better. For starters, you may need to change what you sell or how you sell it. And even if you don’t need a full pivot, you definitely have operational impacts internally (more working from home, social distancing guidelines, etc.) and externally (customer interactions, cleaning, new policies, etc.). As an example, I’m going to the dentist later today for a routine checkup and there’s a completely new process and checklist of things I need to do (as the patient) just to visit their office.

2020 Focus on Leadership

Here are some specific suggestions on what you need to be focusing on right now from a leadership perspective:

Vision and Communications – It’s likely that circumstances have changed your vision, certainly for this year, but perhaps even long term. With all of the uncertainty going around, you need to be communicating (and even over-communicating) the updated vision. Things to think about:

How are you going to survive… or better yet thrive in the new environment?

What new metrics are going to guide the team with these changes?

Are these temporary changes or are you evolving as a business? Be clear.

And of course, you need to continue to reinforce WHY you do what you do (personally and collectively). Change is always hard and people need reassurance and focus to stick with it.

Simplicity – Your team is going to be focused on doing new things. You, as the leader, need to be focused on helping them find ways to simplify things. What’s the bottom line? What really needs to get done and what can be let go? Are there things people have always done that don’t make sense now? Help the team get rid of those things.

Create an environment where your team can succeed – Your biggest job as a leader is to help your team win. And with things changing as much as they are, that will take a lot of consistent effort.

Meet with everyone on your team 1 on 1 at least every week – especially if you’re working remotely. Communication and support is critical and the best way to do that is 1 on 1. These don’t need to be long meetings, but you need to understand what each person is dealing with and find ways to help them.

Get comfortable with technology – there are a lot of great tools that make working remotely not only easier, but actually really effective. As the leader, you will likely need to model the use of these tools.

Stay flexible. Thing are going to continue to change and although it’s important to set directions and move forward consistently, it’s likely that you will need to reevaluate what’s going on (more than once) and adjust accordingly.

Finally, you need to give your team (and yourself) a break. Unless your one of the handful of companies that’s booming because of virus, it’s likely that 2020 isn’t going to be the year you hoped it would be from a revenue and profit perspective. For some companies and industries, it’s going to be a train wreck. Whatever your situation is, it’s important to get to a point where you can accept the new reality and help your team see that things will be okay – maybe not great, but okay and this will be a great chance to build a foundation that will make next year (and beyond) great…!

What do you think? What other leadership changes do you need to make with all of this going on? How are you managing (yourself and your team) differently than you did before? Leave us a comment – we’d love to hear from you.

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach

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