The COVID-19 crisis is forcing companies to rethink leadership. While messages of continuity and calm are usually delivered by the CEO, now employees need moments of microinspiration and strength from their direct leaders, as they face unprecedented challenges in both their personal and professional lives.
This is why appointing team champions within your company is critical. As natural-born leaders, they are deployed across an organization, and put in charge of empowering and inspiring others to stay engaged, productive, innovative and optimistic
When looking for these team champions, remember that they can be anywhere in the company and hold any title, from CFO to a frontline team manager. The key is to look for people who demonstrate the following human-centered characteristics:
They naturally take the lead in projects and meetings with the support of their teammates.
They have an instinct for individual needs and adapt their communication style accordingly. These leaders know how to draw out introverts and inspire pessimists alike.
They are inherently optimistic, and their enthusiasm is infectious.
They understand the value of taking small calculated risks, and they encourage people to generate big ideas, test theories, and gather feedback to validate their efforts.
They celebrate small victories and find silver linings in failure. This positive thinking is how they create a team culture defined by people excited to try again, and willing to embrace new solutions when their idea didn’t work out.
They ask questions of their teams, and rely on them for their expertise. Just because they are in charge, doesn’t mean they have all the answers.
Once you identify these leaders, give them the unofficial job of team champion, and have them come up with a plan to keep everyone in the company, department or team engaged. That may mean hosting a daily huddle, launching a motivational Slack channel, or simply reaching out to people who seem to be struggling and helping them to find new inspiration.
While the pandemic continues to create anxiety in uncertainty, companies that ensure constant communication with employees, and find innovative ways to create calm and camaraderie in the face of chaos will be best positioned to weather this storm.
Further, this is the optimal time to identify the individuals on a team who are able to confidently lead during times of crisis. Companies need agile and inspiring leaders who have the skills and insight to be adaptive in face of uncertainty — and your Team Champions will be well positioned to guide your team toward success no matter what the future brings.