Leading In 2022: 5 principles for team success

Article

5 min read

Great leaders matter – now more than ever. 

Leadership is never an easy task, but it has been even more challenging in recent years thanks to the huge changes and uncertainties brought by COVID-19.

Now, as we move into a ‘living with Covid’ world, the big question leaders are facing is this:

Can I rely on the same leadership principles as before?

Or do I need to tap into new skills and methods to lead my team to success?

The answer? You need a little bit of both. 

Here are 5 principles to help you lead a team to success in 2022:

 

Principle 1: Communicate clearly and consistently 

Communication is always required for great leadership, but it’s never been more important than now. 

Uncertainty fuels anxiety, and there remains a lot of uncertainty as we move into a ‘post-Covid’ era.

In times of uncertainty, communicating clearly and consistently is absolutely critical. By giving at least some answers about what the future may bring, you can help to reduce the uncertainty and the anxiety people feel. 

No-one has all the answers or complete certainty, but this shouldn’t stop you from communicating regularly with your team. 

Remember, there is no such thing as ‘too much communication’ during challenging times, even if you sometimes feel like you’re repeating yourself.

Use the 10x10x10 rule: say something 10 times in 10 different ways for people to retain 10%. 

Focus on what your listeners take in, and consider different ways of communicating to ensure that more information is understood. 

 

Principle 2: Sharpen your emotional intelligence

Leadership guru Dr Brené Brown, author of Dare to Lead, says the world needs leaders who are “self-aware enough to lead from their hearts, rather than unevolved leaders who lead from hurt and fear.”   

Now is the time, she says, to strip the armour that keeps us closed off from our emotions. 

“When the heart is open and free and we’re connected to our emotions and understand what they’re telling us, new worlds open up for us, including better decision-making and critical thinking, and the powerful experiences of empathy, self-compassion and resilience.”  

What we’re talking about here is emotional intelligence (EQ) – a person’s ability to manage their feelings and empathise with others. 

An empathetic person is someone who can easily recognise and understand other people’s emotions. It’s about more than sympathising with others – empathetic people genuinely understand what others are going through and respond appropriately.

How can you be an empathetic leader?

Be present with your team members and take the time to really listen to them. Be curious and ask questions. Show them that you are genuinely interested in knowing them, their lives, and their challenges. 

Try to understand the “why” behind your team members’ actions. Really listen to the reasons an employee has for doing something or acting a certain way, and move past your initial judgements.

Chances are, you’ll find yourself with a broader perspective that helps you act more effectively as a leader.

 

Principle 3: Connect with your team

Connections are the lifeblood of our communities, and that includes workplaces. As humans, we crave connection. 

But remote working and social distancing during the pandemic have made it difficult, or even impossible, to build authentic connections with others. 

In a post-pandemic world, leaders need to be intentional about rebuilding connections with team members, and helping them make connections with each other. 

How do you do this?

Focus on acknowledgement and appreciation. 

This means recognising team members for the unique skills and talents they bring to the team and organisation, and focusing on their specific contributions to the team’s success. 

Don’t be afraid to celebrate achievements, both big and small, with your team. When people feel connected, and know how their unique contributions make a difference, they can thrive and engage fully in their work. 

 

Principle 4: Focus on belonging

Diversity, equity and inclusion are essential for organisations today. But in a post-Covid world, leaders should go a step further to create a culture of belonging.

Belonging is essential to humans. Psychologists rank our need to belong on par with our need for love. 

In the workplace, it’s more important than ever. In the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey in 2020, 79% of survey respondents said that fostering a sense of belonging in the workforce was important to their organisation’s success in the next 12–18 months, and 93% agreed that a sense of belonging drives organisational performance.

So, how do you create a culture of belonging?

According to Dr Brené Brown, “true belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are, it invites us to be who we are.”

A culture of belonging is one where people can show up as their true selves, bring their talents and their perspectives, know that they matter, and that they’re a part of something.

As a leader, this means you should focus on being responsive, appreciative, and empowering. 

Praise employees’ good work, give them honest feedback, and respond to their concerns. 

For example, at the end of a project, take the time to send a feedback email to each team member, letting them know their work is valued and how they can improve going forward. 

That goes a long way towards helping them feel seen, supported and like they belong. 

 

Principle 5: Give your team a ‘why’

Give your team members a sense of purpose. After all the unknowns and uncertainties of the past two years, people are not only craving direction – they want to be part of the bigger goal.

Take the time to explain the “why” behind different tasks and projects, so that team members truly understand the purpose of their work and the value it will bring to the team and organisation. 

That ‘why’ statement as a leader helps people see that individually they are critical, yet part of a team. It brings everyone in with a shared purpose and holds them responsible with clear expectations. 

Over to you

Leading in a post-Covid world comes with lots of unknowns, but it ultimately boils down to one thing: remember that everyone is human. Your team is made up of humans with complex lives, anxieties, challenges, and skills. By remembering to be empathetic and transparent, you can be the motivating and empowering leader that companies are seeking.

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