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Business Growth
Mar 26, 2020

Leading Through The COVID-19 Pandemic

Sponsored Content provided by Lynn Whitesell - Managing Partner, Harris Whitesell Consulting

The world of work has changed significantly in the last few weeks. With the coronavirus pandemic, companies are navigating multiple new business realities and challenges. Many organizations are offering limited work from home or have gone 100% remote for the first time, and their leaders are facing a new reality — leading their teams from afar. Leaders who are new to or have less experience leading hybrid remote or fully remote teams are finding this new reality daunting.
Leaders — you are more essential to the health and well-being of your employees and organizations than ever before!
Effective remote working teams don’t just require the right technology — they require the right leadership. Our coaching clients are asking questions such as: Aside from providing the tools and technology necessary, what should I be doing now? Should I communicate differently — and how? How do I communicate bad news? How do I support my team in this time of uncertainty? How do I help my team achieve results?
Essential leadership skills, such as those identified by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, remain the same:

  • Communication — demonstrating integrity, encouraging constructive dialogue and creating a shared vision
  • Assuring Success — developing technological savvy, ensuring customer satisfaction, maintaining a competitive advantage
  • Engaging People — developing people, building partnerships and sharing leadership
  • Continuous Change — achieving personal mastery, anticipating opportunities, leading change
  • Boundaryless Inclusion — empowering people, thinking globally, appreciating diversity
Leading remote teams requires special emphasis on:
  • Technology Enabled Communication — Being comfortable and confident working with available communication and collaboration technologies. Using the technology as a tool to access and share files and information remotely and to enable observation, communication and trust.
  • Clear Expectations — Being very clear in not only the “what” but the “how” — such as “how” to communicate with each other and “how” remote team members will work with their peers.
  • Engagement — Building a supportive and positive environment. Removing obstacles for the team. Paying attention and tuning in to individual and team successes and struggles. Allowing some flexibility with their schedules, as long as employees are held accountable for achieving results.
  • Communication — Regularly checking in with and scheduling more frequent conversations with employees and teams. Understanding their communication style preferences, motivators, and demotivators. Modeling active listening. Being direct, specific and clear.
  • Trust — Building trust by sharing your own experiences both positive and problematic. Holding private information confidential.
Leading in Times of Crisis
Employees pay heightened attention to their leaders in times of crisis. They look to the leader for reassurance and next steps. With emotions running high, and stress and fear at the forefront, leaders must control the chaos, project honesty, empathy and confidence, be decisive and take quick action and effectively communicate with purpose and timeliness. It is only possible to begin a crisis action plan if everyone involved is focused and on the task at hand.
As companies large and small put in plans to combat the impact of COVID-19, leaders will inevitably be confronted with communicating bad news. Authentic leadership requires courage, humility and discipline at all times. In times of crisis these are especially important. We suggest you follow the example set by Arne Sorenson, Marriot's CEO in demonstrating truly authentic leadership while sharing Marriot's crisis contingency plans with employees:
  • Deliver the news “face-to-face” — which for remote teams is technology enabled.
  • Deliver the facts of the bad news upfront, without sugar coating them.
  • Show shared sacrifice — your actions must match your words.
  • Show genuine emotion — even if it means choking back tears.
  • End on a hopeful note — optimism is an essential ingredient of successful leaders.
 Communication Intelligence
Communication intelligence has probably never been more important than it is right now. 
Behavior and communication drive performance. Even though they may be working from home, your employees are still on the front-line with your customers. Do you know how your employees and teams are adapting? Do you have a picture of what those who have adapted best are doing differently? Any idea of where your employees' stamina and resiliency levels are? What is driving their decision-making process? Understanding the people doing the work and what their journey looks like allows leaders to put aside any assumptions and focus on a validated direction for high level success.  
How soon do you need to be able to know how to lead in this environment? In this time of disruption and uncertainty, the certified Forte' Communication Intelligence™ performance coaches at Harris Whitesell Consulting offer you an immediate solution. Utilizing an 8-minute assessment, we can provide you a snapshot of where your team currently is, a view into where it needs to go and a plan for how to get there.  Furthermore, Forte' is not a “once-then-done” assessment. We will help you see your trends over time — and re-integrate back to the office when the time is right.
Harris Whitesell Consulting, LLC is a business management consulting firm, headquartered in Wilmington NC. Our greatest hope is that you, your family and colleagues are safe while this pandemic runs its course. Our mission is to create partnerships that are based on trust, excellence and impact — from assessment to action. Our highly credentialed and experienced team specializes in accelerating, optimizing and maximizing talent, teams, leaders and business success! We help successful people and organizations achieve guaranteed and measurable leadership improvement. We assess, develop, coach, and advise. Call today for your complimentary consultation (833) 848-7845.
Lynn Whitesell is a global organizational effectiveness and development executive, management consultant, and executive coach – and co-founder and Managing Partner of Harris Whitesell Consulting, LLC. Both through HW Consulting, as well as her previous roles as global head of talent management and training & development for large global organizations over the past 25 years, she has helped create cultures that engage and perform, coached hundreds of executives, leaders and teams, and developed thousands of professionals around the world. Lynn helps clients challenge their current skill set and unlock untapped areas to become better leaders and team members. They appreciate how her energy, integrity, deep expertise and genuine passion for helping people become more successful creates a positive and supportive environment for self-reflection and growth, enabling them to achieve measurable improvement in their own leadership behaviors and increased success of their teams and organizations.

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