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To say that we have collectively experienced tremendous turmoil and turmoil since 2020 first dawned would be an understatement of the highest degree. The lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic, and the rollercoaster it has been in our personal and professional lives, highlight the critical nature of true, steadfast leadership.
When challenging and chaotic times arise, emotionally intelligent leadership is essential to ensure safe passage across choppy seas. This critical nature of a steady hand at the helm applies to small businesses as well as large corporations. While the scale may differ, the core element remains the same: people.
Long-term quality leadership depends on the ability to keep corporate humanity at the heart of all activities.
Related: How to Build a More People-Centered Workplace
Humanity drives business
Every aspect of the business and customer relationship, directly or indirectly, affects individuals. It’s important to move away from the point of sale or service moment and see the layers of men and women connected to that one moment.
- The consumer who deserves quality products and service.
- Shareholders expect profitable – and sustainable – results
- Senior leadership charged with guiding the bigger picture
- Team or department heads charged with the implementation of the vision
- All employees in their ranks, inspired to take on the challenge
- The family and social connections each individual represents
When running a business, it’s natural to zoom in on the transactional moments that represent the viability of our business or brand. Quality leadership remembers the bigger picture and what it takes to get there, right up until the moment the product or service is fulfilled.
Strengthen this process fivefold, tenfold, or a thousandfold and that one thing remains: its humanity.
Related: 5 Ways Emotional Intelligence Will Make You a Better Leader
Employees deserve genuine respect in challenging times
In business, challenging seasons are inevitable; there is no escaping that reality. And while the size and scope of the problem will vary in relation to the size of an organization, the experience is felt the same for every employee.
A company can have hundreds or thousands of employees; a small business may have a dozen bakers. Either way, the workforce is made up of men and women who deserve leadership anchored in authentic respect.
Authentic respect as a leader is defined by the simple truth that we are all in this together. Small business leaders can experience this reality in a more tangible way, as the natural gap between employee and employer logically widens with each stage of the company’s growth.
Leaders navigating challenging seasons choose transparency over opacity with authentic respect, where intentional communication and connection drive adaptive, creative problem-solving.
Related: 7 Ways to Stay Resilient in Uncertain Times
Avoiding empathy just for empathy’s sake
Any business leader striving to get their company through a rough patch may be tempted to dive into the deep end of empathetic and intentional support without having earned it or knowing how to effectively achieve it.
Employees are instinctively aware of inauthentic support seemingly done for show and little else. If tried clumsily, well-intentioned measures of communicating concern and nurturing the connection can prove fateful and counterproductive. Forced efforts compounded by poor research or rushed into action can derail the positive momentum.
In tumultuous times, one-on-one with employees and regular, alternating team and department meetings can be an excellent means of maintaining awareness and understanding. The larger the company, the more complex the system can be to ensure that each individual receives the right care and support.
Conversely, scheduling one-on-one or more frequent team meetings and not having a game plan to use the time effectively can negate the impact of a well-intentioned check-in.
Perhaps your game plan is to listen when an employee or team member needs to speak up about the stress and challenges they are experiencing. Being aware of your goals in every effort is essential to making a positive, lasting impact on employee morale and the company.
Related: Inspiring Loyalty With Your Leadership: Here’s How
Lead with assured authenticity, transparency and vision
Nothing in business gets accomplished without the individuals who make it possible, the men and women who are the lifeblood of a company. Every leadership position is a privilege; it is a opportunity to guide career paths and business trajectories. Awareness of this fundamental truth is crucial to limiting any potential for over-inflated egos that can derail leadership development.
Leading in challenging times is a whole different level of challenge and reward. It requires more flexibility and creativity, requires authentic interpersonal skills fueled by empathy, and requires open and active communication channels.
Your employees will look to you as their leader to provide clarity and confidence. You may not have all the answers, and your vision for the path forward may be a work in progress. Confidently communicated on wheels of authenticity and transparency, the light at the end of the tunnel will be all the brighter.
Related: Strength With Purpose: The Four Pillars of Leadership