I was on a webinar this morning for one of my leadership programs, and the theme that came up consistently from the participants (all senior leaders) was that there has not been any messaging from the most senior leaders in their respective, different, organisations for the last three weeks.
This is not acceptable.
At the beginning of the COVID situation, there was a mass of frantic activity, and during that time there was a real and active focus on communication. Letting people know what was going on. Making sure people were well informed and knew what to do. That they understood what was happening, and how it was going to impact them.
Now, it seems, everyone is in their new working conditions- working from home, A and B teams working- a range of different variations in play to make sure that businesses are operating whether upsizing, or downsizing, or changing. Now that organisations have settled into their new ‘normal’ the messaging has stopped.
The impact of this is that people do not feel clear about what is going on. They are asking themselves and their colleagues:
- ‘Are we just going to keep things the same way as they’ve been for the last three weeks?’ And,
- ‘How long will it be like his?’
- ‘Is this for the next week, or the next month, or the next three months?’
- ‘Are there other changes coming or not?’
People feel unclear, uncertain, unsupported, and confused. There is an absence of leadership.
‘Leaders should be visible, accessible and approachable, and never stop learning.’
If there is no messaging coming from the top about what is happening and what is not happening, three key things are taking place in your organisation right now
One is that people are feeling a bit disconnected. They are feeling like they are not being informed, and so maybe they’re not important or valued, and this will impact on their engagement and morale over time, their willingness to continue to work at their best in what are unusual and in some circumstances, challenging conditions.
2. LIMITED LEADERSHIP
The second thing is that many senior leaders are not visible. In some cases they are invisible, and that means they are not leading.
During this time, we need leaders to be visible. In this uncertain time, people need to have certainty in you as their leader. You need to create some stability and some consistency that they can rely on. If you are not leading your people and you are not demonstrating that you are leading your people, how can they trust you?
In future, when you ask your people to do something, or when you make a difficult decision, the chances of your people buying into that are diminished because you haven’t built the trust by visibly leading the transformation right now. This will have an impact on the adoption of changes going forward. Again, lack of visible leadership now will impact the belief and trust in you as a leader, and that is going to impact the willingness of people to do the things you’re asking them to do.
If you have visibility, if you are recognised as the leader, you build connection, trust and certainty and that translates to leverage when you need action from your people.
NO TRUST = NO LEVERAGE
The third thing that happens In the absence of the leaders, the most senior leaders, providing clear, consistent, frequent information, is other people will speculate, and that will become the truth. And, you know, there lies risk and danger.
So if you want your people to buy in, if you want your people to be engaged, if you want them to be informed, if you want them to trust you and trust in your decision making and your leadership, then you need to show them that you are leading. That means you must be visible.
If you are not already, you need to be providing a message to your workforce at least every single week. You need to make sure that all of the leaders in your community and your organisation are informed of the messages that they should be providing to their teams every single week. How can you expect your leaders to be engaging their teams if you are not giving them anything to work with?
Using the 4 P’s framework will help you to quickly craft your message.
See more about using the 4Ps here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leaders-need-message-right-now-here-how-do-stacey-ashley/
If you are a senior leader, you must provide direction and clarity. You must provide certainty that you are going to lead your people and you are going to lead your leaders.
So my question to you is, if there is a gap here, if you are invisible or not as visible as you should be, what action are you going to take this week to build trust?
I’d love to know your thoughts
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