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Leadership in the Trenches

Updated: Apr 25

These sure have been difficult times for millions of people in the US and around the world. To a person, our strength and perseverance is being tested. The leadership in our companies have been trying to get a handle on the best way to get through this. Businesses have filed for bankruptcy, employees have been furloughed, and the small businesses and entrepreneurs in our country have felt more pain and hardship than anyone could ever imagine.

For those lucky enough to still have jobs, working from home has become essential. Many people for instance, have never used Zoom before. Still others have used their time to learn or sharpen the skills they used little before.

For managers it has also been challenging. How do you hold your team together? How do you create meaningful projects that do not appear like busy work, and how do you foster team building and camaraderie through a computer screen? 

There has been a myriad of articles over the last few weeks about leadership and empathy. Now more than ever we all need to keep an open mind and be willing to look at the overwhelming amount of information coming at us objectively. It is a daunting task but making the best of a bad situation is coming out on the other side stronger and better prepared.

The question really is, as a leader, how can you best serve your teams in the trenches, in the day to day activities needed and required as we wade through the weeks ahead, even as the nation pulls itself back up on its feet?

One of the most important things a leader can do is to convey to sales teams and managers the importance for them in their careers to stay relevant. More than ever that is the case. Now is the time to for salespeople to gain knowledge, truly understand their industry and the potential changes, and become a resource to and for their customers. It is also true to stay relevant and to foster growth, people need to feel relevant, that they are valuable, and that their contribution makes a difference.

Keeping the sales team engaged, delegating the right projects or portions of projects to people, guiding them, not holding their hand, and then providing feedback that strengthens their confidence will encourage positive action on their part.

As a leader, you want them to grow and to succeed because it not only strengthens them it strengthens the company. It is ultimately the rising tide that will lift all ships. It also begins to bring out the best in their peers and ultimately isn’t that what it is all about, Aubrey Daniels said it best in his book, Bringing out the best in People, “an organization that uses reinforcement effectively will get improvement. Put another way, if performance is not improving, performance is not occurring.”

Here are some takeaways from the last few weeks.

My guess is that you have a few of your own too.

  •  Do not rely on just scheduled Zoom meetings

  • Call your team members regularly

  • Be prepared to listen, really listen

  •  Be prepared to provide honest feedback but don’t pontificate

  • Ask questions that will allow people to naturally come to their own conclusions

  • Don’t live in a vacuum, understand especially working at home some have children and are now home Schooling

  • Encourage the things you normally take for granted, Exercise, self-renewal, as Stephen Covey said in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, "Take the time to Sharpen the saw”

  • Don’t be afraid of the “why” just be prepared to answer because…. With a well thought out response. Covey also said “seek first to understand before being understood”

  • Remember, a sincere thank you, I appreciate you, you are really stepping up, will go a very long way today.

Leadership was never easy. Sometimes when the winds were right and we were all sailing into the wind, we all looked like heroes, but these are times that test everyone in every position.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
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