Leading a team or an organization today is difficult, to say the least. We are in uncharted water and so the destination is not fixed. There is no map and we don’t know what lies on the other side. So how on earth do you lead with confidence? The answer is you don’t, you lead with authenticity.
Authentic leaders know that you don’t have to have all the answers, you never will. What you must have is emotional intelligence based on self-awareness about what your strengths are as well as your weaknesses. And rather than hide the weaknesses, you will need to admit those, ask for help and surround yourself with people who can fill those gaps for you.
Authentic leaders are vulnerable, admit when they are wrong, and encourage others to step up. Teams will come through this situation, individual leaders who believe “they alone can solve this” will fail. This is not an individual sport, it’s a team effort. Much like an orchestra that produces beautiful music, it is the sum of the parts. The conductor knows how to coax the sound of the right musician and her instrument at the right time. It’s your job as a leader to step aside and let others play a part even if it’s new for them.
Part of leadership requires that you evaluate various strategies to navigate towards the vision, which means you must have a vision of the future that doesn’t exist today. That vision doesn’t need to be perfect, but it has to be something compelling that inspires hope in a better future. That vision should be shared by your leadership team and subsequently the entire organization – otherwise, the strategies selected to get you there will be disconnected from that vision. Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. We aren’t going back to where we were, but we can create a different and better future. The leaders’ job is to help everyone see the possibilities and engage the team in the journey.
You won’t know all the obstacles that you will face navigating through this crisis, let alone what the actual future will look like. However, your job is to give your team a glimpse of what it could be – your “what if” moment. Your job is to help them feel safe, give them confidence, and help them understand they are not alone and mean it. What you can know is that you have survived before and you will again – but only if you journey together. None of us will get through this by ourselves. The opportunities are greater than the obstacles. Your job is to help everyone believe that before they see proof of it.
Are you ready to be an authentic leader? Now is the time for your leadership and being a little unsure, a little afraid, and a little out of your depth means you’re right where you should be.