It is widely accepted that practical communication skills within senior leaders need developing more than ever before, specially during these unprecedented times where there is a lot of pressure to work from home and lead remote teams during a crisis. “How?” is the key question.

Yes, the demands of leadership has evolved in the past 10 years, and the personalities of leaders have changed too. Guess what – we are all being challenged by the impact of changes in demographics, technology, and the changing social contract between workers and employers. Organisations will have to re-design structures to quickly become more agile and customer-centric. 

In remote conversations, leaders need to develop the skills to be more empathetic, collaborative, resilient, and assertive.  

With remote teams now existing wherever possible, leaders now need to navigate diverse and ambiguous networks of people – a key challenge of leading and influencing in this new environment lies in communication skills. Whilst leaders are challenged to adopt an approach that is more collaborative, coaching the team to work towards a common goal, the reality is that more team members than ever before are working remotely. They come from different cultures and have very different expectations and ideas around the team’s purpose, roles and how it should be led. Inspiring followership, and achieving success whilst everyone is on the end of a phone line is no mean feat. 

Deprived of the bandwidth of non-verbal communication, leaders can build the necessary levels of trust for people to share ideas and opinions, agree actions and learn as the project progresses. Successful leaders must now change the culture of their communication and move from a transmit to receive mindset – that engages others on a higher emotional level.  

The following shifts in behaviour are critical to succeeding through the next few weeks;

Get comfortable with technology

There are a lot of products on the market to make remote working more interactive and promote input from others. Communicating in this way is the new normal – embrace the change. 

Be “curious not furious”

When time is tight, you may be tempted to become more transactional and “tell” people. Resist it. The reality is that your team will be far more likely to take action if they have helped come up with the solution. Be the chairperson, illicit ideas, and stimulate debate before making a decision. 

Plan your communication

Focus on the “why” – to connect people with your collective purpose, and vision. Say how you want others to feel, and reduce what you say to the minimum to create more impact – less is more. Create space for the ideas to sink in, and for others to ask questions.

Promote diverse thinking

Play to the strengths of having a diverse team and encourage people to share their ideas and thoughts more. Not everyone will want to contribute during a call, so use online forums and set community pages to facilitate better sharing.

As a leader looking to have “better conversations” with others, building capability in these above areas will undoubtedly help you build greater levels of trust and engagement with your teams. These are all EQ and communication related skills which can be assessed, developed and coached with great success, especially within practical, communication based coaching. 

Leading in a crisis requires a different leadership behaviour, and, we’ve been advising many leaders on how to deal with this unprecedented situation of the Corona Virus outbreak and COVID_19. Talk to us today >>

By Tim Richardson,
Founder, Black Isle Group
Connect on LinkedIn >>

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