5 Minute Read
One of the greatest inventions in aeronautical technology was autopilot.
You set your destination, and paid no attention to why you were going there, nor how you were going to get there.
COVID-19 knocked most of our aircraft off of autopilot.
Then the pandemic hit and air traffic control grounded all of us.
We all now must fly solo. We need to not only reevaluate our destination, we must also put a lot of energy into why we are going there, and how we are going to get there.
When we were on autopilot, we weren’t critically assessing whether we needed to take that trip. We were going through the motions. Someone else was piloting the plane.
Now, the silver lining in this pandemic, is that it’s given us more time to think. We reflect on the things we used to do. We find ourselves asking, “What was the purpose of that?”
Roughly 50% of your team is working from home and facing new challenges, like isolation and loneliness. As a virtual leader, your role is to connect your team members to reevaluate their destinations, to reevaluate how they are getting there, but most of all to reconnect them to why they do the work they do. You must reintroduce them to the solo pilot; you must connect them to their CAUSE.
It’s Time Re-Invent Your Leadership Strategy
As a virtual leader, you need to re-invent your leadership to thrive in this new environment. To re-invent your leadership strategy, you must focus improvement in nine meaningful areas. Last week, we focused on Clarity. This week, we’re diving into Cause. We’re going to cover how you can get your team deeply motivated through a connection to cause.
What is cause?
Cause is purpose, it is impact, it’s the deep desire to fulfill meaningful work. Additionally, cause answers the question, “What is the impact that you uniquely make on the people that you work with?”
Cause is a deep personal discovery that can create unstoppable power on a team. Richard Leider explains through his work on purpose that:
A life purpose is realized through “intention” —by getting to know your authentic self, exploring your
gifts or natural talents and passions —choosing the best possible expression to share them with the
The reason why you do what you do and why your company does what it does, that’s cause as well.
And, most leaders, and most team members, are still on autopilot. Flying without Cause, when today’s COVID 19 makes flying solo mandatory.
Why is Cause Important?
The psychiatrist Viktor Frankl famously described how the innate human quest for meaning is so strong that, even in the direst circumstances, people seek out their purpose in life. Getting people clear on cause has many benefits.
When people are clear on cause, it
- Adds meaning and purpose to the work they do
- Increases their levels of engagement and satisfaction
- Builds trust
Research shows that those who know and live their purpose live longer, more fulfilling lives.
The Role of The Virtual Leader
The Virtual leader uses Cause to connect their teammates to their source of energy by what is the impact that they uniquely make? The answer to that unlocks purpose.
To illustrate, once your team gets to their purpose, they become deeply connected to what they bring to your company and the world. We need to be diving deep down into three areas of cause which is your clients, your core, and your care.
The Virtual Leader uses Cause to Connect to Your Clients
First, the Virtual leader uses cause to connect their team to the work with their clients by asking the question:
At the end of the day, what impact do you uniquely have on your clients?
Each person on your team has a unique impact on your clients. They each fulfill a different role that uniquely impacts their clients. More often than not, that uniqueness is something that they are unaware of.
In one recruiting company we work with, it’s very clear the importance the recruiters have on the clients, but the other department that does more back-end work, has a harder time seeing how their role serves their clients. Once we helped them make that connection, they built a deeper understanding of what impact they uniquely have on their clients, and not only that, the impact that their clients have on the world.
Discovering how Cause connects to your clients requires that you take on a perspective on your organization from a 20,000 foot view to see the impact that one individual is uniquely making when they contribute to the client.
What if every day, you asked your team, what’s the impact you uniquely want to make this week?
Imagine how much energy, creativity and innovation you would get.
Imagine asking this question in a team meeting every week? You would not only be clearer about your destination, you would know why you are moving to the destination, and you would be clearer on how to get there.
The Virtual Leader uses Cause to Connect to the CORE
Second, the Virtual leader uses cause to connect to the core of who each person on their team really is.
Core, really asks the question:
At the core of your most authentic self, what’s your message?
As a leader, are you facilitating the ability for your teammates to bring their strengths to the table and take on activities that they love to do?
Many of us are discovering the things that we aren’t as passionate about that took up a majority of our time pre-COVID. People have more time to contemplate and to figure out what’s important to them and what is at core of who they are. This is a scary discovery as it places us in the uncomfortable position to take on activities that we love, but weren’t able to get to.
Now that we are NOT on auto-pilot, it is time to fly solo and take risks, dive in, do the uncomfortable, and bring more value to the work that you do.
It’s time to step back and make sure that everyone on your team is working in roles that are authentic to themselves at their core.
As a leader, you need to ask yourself, what is my core skillset? Am I using my key skills or am I on autopilot. Has COVID called on my teammates to do what they did before, or to really take on activities that are challenging, engaging, and authentic?
The Virtual Leader Uses Cause to Connect to CARE
Third, the Virtual leader uses cause to connect with what that person cares about by asking:
What are your aspirations?
This question is relevant, it is challenging, and it is not necessarily easy to answer in one sitting. But successful leaders know you have to go slow to go fast. Ask your team the following questions:
- Where do you want to grow?
- What skills do you want to develop?
- How do you want people to know you?
- What brand do you want to build about yourself?
Virtual leaders need to ask these hard questions. When we were in the office and scrambling between coffee and driving to work we didn’t have much time to ask our teams these questions. Effective virtual leaders right now are asking their teams these kinds of questions.
Also by asking these questions, the message they give their team is:
“I’m not going to forget about your aspirations. Yes, we might be in this pandemic. And, not only am I not going to forget about your aspirations, but I’m going to have you dive deep into what your aspirations are because you need that. You need to have that to bring you forward every single day, to answer where are you going? And not only that, I refuse to allow you to stay on auto-pilot, as a virtual leader, I am going to get you there.”
Are you talking about aspirations on your Zoom, WebEx or Microsoft Teams with your team?
Virtual Leaders Are Focused on Cause Now, and in the Future
I just finished a session using the Inspired Teams model with Dr. Steven Wolff. In this unpredictable time, if you want to have a team that will thrive, you have to build a team that is focused not only on the present situation, but on the future.
Virtual leaders need to know the aspirations of their team, connect with those aspirations over the long-term and connect individuals to their cause. They have to ask their teams, what impact they want to make on their clients, who they are authentically at their core, and what message they want to bring to the world.
At the end of the day, the desired outcome for virtual leaders is to get their entire team committed to understanding what each person’s aspirations are and supporting each person to become greater than they are today. That’s the true destination. That is a high performance team.
Getting to the Cause is Purposeful Leadership
That’s purposeful work, that’s purposeful leadership, and that’s a purposeful team that can withstand the test of time, and a pandemic. Have those conversations with your team, connect with your team, show them some empathy, get vulnerable with them. You’re gonna build incredible relationships that will last forever and through this new virtual medium you will be more intimate and connected than you ever could have imagined.
With lack of face-to-face contact and our only connection to each other through a digital pipe, we really need to be having these conversations to connect with our people because the name of the game right now is trust. You can be the most amazing leader but what your people are looking for right now is if they can completely trust and be vulnerable with you. People today don’t need autopilot, people today are looking for you to be their copilot flying towards a deeply powerful and meaningful destination.
Never miss a lesson below: