The drastic changes in circumstances, working remotely, conflicting information, home schooling the kids, queueing for your shopping, the fear and the anxiety, its palpable! 
Like many business owners across the UK, I am concerned for the future. The future of the economy, the future of my business and the future my family walks into when everything we are currently embroiled in settles around us. 
 
I feel it, my staff feel it, it surrounds everything we do, every decision people make and challenges the way we operate. 
 
But I am a leader. 
So, while I can feel all these things, I cannot show them outwardly. It is my role to keep the calm for my people. To be stoic and have a clarity of purpose that is infectious. My people look to me to see how I respond to the predicament we find ourselves in. I am the example that they must follow to navigate through the perils that we face. This is what it means to be a leader, this is the price we pay for the position we are in, but more importantly this is our time to shine! 
 
I have had the privilege of leading teams in hostile situations from a very young age and the lessons that I learned during this time have always been the backbone to how I have performed through business in my later life. 
 
If there was ever a time to step up and be counted as a leader – this is it, so here’s a few tips that have helped me in the past and that currently lay the foundations of our success as a business through the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
Appreciate peoples sacrifice 
 
Acknowledging that people are sacrificing their known way of life and showing appreciation of that fact is a very powerful tool. People want to know that they are making a difference, that their efforts are seen and that they are part of a team. Regular praise of your staff members goes a long way to getting them on side and will inspire them to do more than is usually expected. Take the time to thank individuals who have sacrificed their time and their safety and be aware that the power of one personal message from their leader can mean the world to some people. 
 
Maintain clear lines of communication 
 
If you are not sending out a weekly personal update from you to your team you really should be! My advice is you structure one to your management teams and one to your general staff. Don’t miss anyone out, ensuring every single member of the team is included in some way. These updates provide a very much needed regular update to your people and avoids the “mushroom” effect of being left in the dark. These messages are what people will remember you for when all of this is over – so take the time to put it together and circulate as necessary. 
 
The updates to your management teams should be clear and factual, giving a full true reflection of how things stand, steps you all need to take to keep the business on track and offering a view of the wider picture for their understanding. Ensure you use any external sources of information as required, to give reference for people to dig into should they require it. Always end it with gratitude for their efforts and continued support. Remember, it is likely that without them and their sacrifice the ship would not stay on course. Show your appreciation and remember it’s the little things that matter the most to these people. They know you best, they know your good bits and your bad bits, so your honest commentary will be appreciated. 
 
The updates to your general staff should be upbeat, inspiring and contain any relevant information that makes them feel like they are in the full picture. This is your time to offer your advice, to give thanks and appreciate people’s sacrifice. Where possible give them useful tasks to compete, run a bonus scheme for online learning or come up with a way of keeping them engaged during this time of uncertainty. For the Key Workers you need to motivate them to continue doing their job to the best of their ability despite the perceived risk. If your staff are working from home, furloughed or isolating then it is just as important to thank them for their efforts and maintain constant communication with them, so they do not feel left out. These are the people you have built your business on; they are important. Now is the time to treat them as such and remind them that you understand them, their sacrifice, their efforts and appreciate their support. 
 
Empower the workforce to empower the business 
 
It is likely that you have a lot of plates to keep spinning, so now is the time to truly empower your workforce to keep things moving forward. Outline your expectations to your team then trust them to take care of it. You need to concentrate on other things, relieve yourself of that need to micromanage or control the controllable. Your role is to ascend this to true leadership. Look at the big picture and plan for all eventualities, laying the foundation for your management teams and staff to follow on from. Mistakes are sure to be made during this time, but with the right guidance they can be minimised. For those that cannot be avoided, avoid judgement and blame – you don’t have time for this. Identify it, resolve it, move on. This is the key for this to work well. 
 
Be inspiring 
 
Now if you type into google “inspirational quotes”, you will be confronted with thousands upon thousands. There’s an entire industry dedicated to motivational speaking, which is built on the foundation of inspiring others. I am not suggesting that you simply send out a motivational quote to your staff and a few emojis, this is likely to fall on its face and not get you the desired result. To truly inspire someone, you must be relatable. Your staff need you now, more than they have ever done before – so start right there. Lead by example and lead from the front. Where possible show that you are willing to take on the same burden as them and do it with positivity. Relate to their fears, make yourself human to them by sharing something personal that you otherwise would not do. The time for ivory towers and walls between you and your staff is not now. Break them down, show them you are human and that you all face the same issue as one. This is one of the most important parts of becoming a true leader and once achieved will definitely give you the results you need to navigate these turbulent times. 
 
The future is uncertain but for those of us that rely on our people to help us get through it, we must use all the weapons in our arsenal to achieve those ends.  
 
I employ these four tips in my management style as a rule, but they can be adapted to almost any situation and this is one of those times where shaking it up a little will have much more added value. One of my favourite quotes by Franklin Roosevelt sits at the front of my mind constantly at present, which helps to give me a clarity of purpose and the drive I need to navigate these treacherous waters; “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. 
 
Good luck with your own personal battle, look after your people, do your best and let’s hope for a speedy end to our current predicament. 
 
All the best, 
 
Dan Mottram 
Managing Director 
White Star Security Services Ltd 
Tagged as: Leadership
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