The Keys to Leading Teams During Challenging Times With Strategic Thinking
22 de February de 2022
22 de February de 2022
Henry Kissinger was, for decades, the most relevant strategist of American diplomacy. He lived through particularly agitated times — from the Vietnam War all the way until the fall of the USSR, which would lead to the end of the Cold War. “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been”, he’d say. Making it through this journey and experiencing the least damage possible to the company is the responsibility and merit of a good leader.
Leadership is not an ability that’s exclusively acquired through academic studies; it requires certain aptitudes and experiences that forge our personality and allow us to know how to act correctly when problems come up. During the last decades, our understanding of leadership has changed and adapted to the new business reality. That’s why strategic thinking has been gaining ground — it offers a series of tools and skills that help us come up with solutions, but also help us make hard decisions; something that not all of us are capable of doing.
Change Is Coming Whether You Want It or Not
It’s true that transformations are essential. We can imagine or try to predict where things are going, but we cannot reduce uncertainty to the minimum. However, accepting change will happen, whether we purposely look for it or if it breaks in unannounced, is a very good first step to be ready when it hits.
Leaders must anticipate change and keep their team motivated and interested in the problems that may come up. Understanding why change is important, accepting the responsibility it supposes, is already a good starting point; as important as it is to plan according to our possibilities. If leaders have the support of their teams, the message will be more efficient when transformation takes place. That’s why, inspiring bosses will have an easier time getting their teams to stand behind them. In order to achieve this, they will have to be the first ones to be ready, whether through their great knowledge of the business or through their predisposition to face challenges.
Attitude Is Everything
Being a leader is all about having the capacity to impact and influence others, building trust in the face of uncertainty. Attitude is essential in order to assert leadership. Would you follow someone who doesn’t seem to know what he/she wants or how he/she wants it? Self confidence and an ability to react and execute quickly are also good leadership traits.
When facing problems or change, leaders have to ask themselves for basic questions:
Very often circumstances that involve complicated or painful transformations put a company’s endurance to the test. Problems put tension on the chain and the decisions made at the top can turn out to be quite unpopular. Here’s where the composure of good bosses comes into play. Good bosses must present their decisions with facts and information, always keeping a sincere dialogue and not causing frustration in their teams.
The Seven Aptitudes of a Good Leader from a Strategic Thinking Perspective:
Experience: What we go through in similar circumstances is key to facing new changes. Leaders are made on the field.
Positive Attitude: Teams should perceive their leader as someone who accepts and takes on challenges, while also being resilient when mistakes are made.
Humility: You cannot know everything about everything. Accepting a mentor’s opinion or the opinion of others involved is fundamental in order to gain new perspectives.
Determination: Once leaders have the information and they’ve analysed and evaluated the pros and cons, they must make decisions, no matter how complicated or unpopular they may be.
Credibility: It’s acquired through the assertion of leadership and only those who manage to make an impact on their collaborators and employees can gain it. Credibility will help leaders gain support during tough times.
Flexibility: Adapting to change shows a leader’s survival skills. Stagnation brings problems. A good leader is comfortable being outside the comfort zone.
Observation: Observing the company, the way the team works, the environment… Analysing and having a deep knowledge of every factor that’s at play keeps adaptive intelligence flowing.
The Importance of Team Management
The times in which companies had a hierarchy, with disconnected areas and sectors, are gone. That’s why being a leader is not always the same as being a boss. We’ve seen that leadership is gained through prestige and the capacity to build trust. For that reason, when problems come up, the skills of leaders are as important as their capacity to count on the people around them.
The way in which we manage teams and take them from “where they are to where they have not been”, as Kissinger used to say, is the way in which we guarantee success and minimise the impact that change brings about, making it easy to transition and adapt.
Two concepts are key: communication and transparency. Employees want to know; they need to understand the processes, feel like they are part of the transformation that’s taking place. Having easy flowing exchange channels for information, experiences and points of view helps integrate teams and keep everyone motivated. Thus, truth is a great ally. It won’t do any good to disguise the state of matters. What should be done is to present it through an optimistic approach.
At the same time, training teams for these new environments with flexibility and empathy is of the highest necessity. Being there for those who don’t embrace change or that are left behind and inspiring those with doubts or fear in order to avoid being devoured by our comfort zone. It’s also very important to deal with mistakes and failure. Part of the lifelong learning process on strategic thinking and on the power to face problems lies in knowing how to take stepbacks and make them part of the process. Today’s mistakes will become tomorrow’s experience.