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This article is a part of the series Re-Inventing Leadership: 9 Things Virtual Leaders must focus on.
Disconnection is the enemy leaders are facing right now, and leaders need to find strategies to strengthen connection on a remote team. At this point, your team might still be working from home and desperately looking for a connection. They are longing for connection to their friends, to their families, to their leaders, and to their teams.
One strategy leaders can use right now, is Challenge. Challenging our team members at a time like this is not wrong. In fact, it’s one of the most loving things we can do. To use challenge as a strategy to build connection, you have to be able to challenge your team in a way that is caring and effective.
To do this, leaders need to challenge each person to make a declaration about how they want to show up during these hard times.
“I am going to be a master delegator.”
“I am going to take risks and be exceptionally creative.”
“I am going to make sure that everyone on the team is taken care of.”
To make the declaration of “who they are going to be during this difficult time” is one of the most powerful things your team members can be doing right now.
More importantly, if your team members can share their declarations and hold each other accountable to those declarations, they will find a deeper way to connect with each other and to work together.
To challenge each other is the most loving and beautiful thing you can do.
Forbes Contributor Angela Kambouris mentioned in her recent article, How to Sculpt Yourself Into a Future Ready Leader, reimagining a future workplace involves re-inventing organizations. That is exactly what this series is here to do to help leaders re-invent leadership at their level.
So, let’s review three steps leaders can take to strengthen their connection and challenge their team.
Step 1: Have a one-on-one with each person on your team
In this one on one conversation, ask your team member, “How do you want to show up during this time?”
But before you do that, be ready to share your answer first.
So first make a declaration yourself about how you want to show up during this time.
Additionally, it’s not about just showing up at work, it’s about showing up as a human being. You can open the conversation with how you want to show up yourself and explain the benefits of making this declaration.
How A Declaration Strengthens Connection on a Remote Team
Declarations are one of six speech acts used in a book by the Chalmer’s Brothers called “Language and the Pursuit of Leadership Excellence.” Based on the work of Fernando Flores, declarations are a speech tool that leaders (and people in general) use to create a commitment, create your public identity, coordinate action, create your relationships and your culture. Declarations give you a compass. A declaration, especially when spoken, is a powerful tool leaders have used since the dawn of time. It allows people to speak the future into existence.
We need someone in our life to ask us who we want to be.
My personal declaration right now is “I choose to be courageous, artistic, confident, connected and empathetic.”
Other ideas that might get you started are
- Holding my team members accountable
Who do they want to be?
During the beginning of the pandemic one of the managers I coach did what he thought he was supposed to do, which was work. But that manager noticed that the more and more that he worked, the more disconnected he became from his team.
We had to stop him and ask this question “Who do you want to be through this? What do you want people on your team to know you for?”
“During this time, I want to be seen by my people, I want people to know that I’m hearing them, I want to be transparent, caring, empathetic and a good listener.”
Once he made that declaration, he was able to carry that with them.
Ask your team members to make a declaration that they would be willing to share with their team.
Step 2: Allow your team members to share their declaration
Second, the most radical thing you can do is to have each one of your team members share their declarations. After you’ve completed those conversations in your one-on-ones ask your team at your next meeting to share their declarations.
This step is powerful because at this point, your staff is taking the declaration and speaking it into the world. It is a vulnerable move, and it is touching, and inspiring to simply hear from the other people on the team about how they want to show up right now.
Step 3: Make an agreement
Finally, after everyone has shared their declarations with each other, the next step is to create an agreement. A pact that everyone is compelled to follow.
Have your team members agree to hold each other accountable for the way they want to show up.
This manifests a team with so much energy because they feel they are being heard and they feel they are being taken care of by the people on their team. This agreement is the challenge, it’s different then holding each other accountable for the deliverables. It gives a challenge for your team to step into a new way of being as the team as a whole. It helps each individual see how each person on their team is ready to help them. This is team support where everyone cares how each person is going to be.
You are building towards who you really want to be not just as a team, but as individuals.
In a recent McKinsey article, Reimaging the Post Pandemic Organization, they offer a model about how the post-pandemic organization will take shape in three dimensions. Those three dimensions are who we are, how we operate, and how we grow. These dimensions are equally important from an organizational view as they are from the team view. In a post-pandemic world, your team must be clear on these dimensions as well.
I challenge leaders to think of this not just on the organizational level, but on their team level. This is where asking the question “How do you want to show up” fits into this model. It’s reinventing leadership not from the organizational view, but from the team view. It gives leaders the ability to show the people on the team “I care about the person you want to be, and not only am I here to support you as a leader, but we are also here to support each other on the team.”
To summarize, during this pandemic, what the people on our teams need right now is connection. They are depending on their leaders to strengthen connection on a remote team. Give them connection, support, and challenge with this strategy and tell me how it goes and how I can help you take the next steps towards building your remote team.
Topic: Strategic Leadership | Leading in a Crisis