By Michael Gunther
This election cycle has been said to be one of most challenging and thought-provoking for a number reasons. No matter what party affiliation you have or the result you were hoping for, as a leader or business owner it is important to remember the aspects of leading a team as we enter the realm of a new president.
I first must admit that through all my years of leading teams, I have never experienced or seen my team and customers express so many emotions, concerns or fear of the unknown related to a Presidential election. The energy surrounding this election cycle has created workplace tension and anxiety at unprecedented levels. As the dust settles, we as leaders need to remember what we must do to ensure that our organizations can continue to thrive and our teams can continue to excel to new levels of performance.
One of the important lessons learned, from my perspective, is that leaders have to be open to diverse conversations, opinions and approaches to solving issues or facing new opportunities. Our strength as a country has been the inclusion of a variety of perspectives, and the same holds true for building a strong organization. If people focused more on trying to understand instead of challenging who is right or wrong, I think we would find more common ground than we might think.
Employees need their leaders to set a strong and clear path for the future. With so much uncertainty surrounding us through information outlets, employees are becoming stressed and concerned about their well-being and future. I feel like I can control my actions and my company’s focus more than I can control those things outside of my sphere of influence.
Now is also the time for leaders to keep their eye on potential risks and opportunities within their own markets and the economy as a whole. The organizations that will thrive in both up and down economic conditions are those that have leaders who are already ahead of their competitors and making appropriate adjustments. This requires leaders to research and understand the economic indicators and government policies on a continuous basis. Don’t be the ostrich with your head in the sand.
Lastly, leaders have to become skilled at facilitating conflict amongst team members who are struggling with issues related to personal beliefs, opinions and feelings. You may say that this is something individual employees need to work out amongst themselves — but if employees can’t get along within your workplace, overall team performance will decline. Great leaders can address these challenges in a productive manner that allows employees to get back to collaborating and working to build your business.
Times of transition and fear of the unknown can bring stress and concerns for your team. Remember to keep your team focused on the future while preparing contingency plans for the unknown. In addition, develop your facilitation and communication skills so that you can lead the necessary conversations to bring your team together as a stronger unit.