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How great leaders align communication and collaboration during uncertainty

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It’s hard enough to master collaboration in a normal environment, but how do you bring out the best in your people during periods of uncertainty?

Collaboration is the foundation to success during times of business disruption. Many organisations are siloed in their approach to problem solving, but bringing people together in a more collaborative environment allows businesses to leverage individual and organisational strengths in new ways to mitigate issues.

Business disruptions, like the COVID-19 pandemic, present challenges that require you to become a more effective leader. At times, your staff might be resistant to change. A common challenge gives them the chance to be a part of the solution that makes your business stronger in the long run.

The keys to successfully manage uncertainty through collaboration are building a business continuity team, fostering critical thinking skills, and communicating for connection. Let’s take a look at each in more depth.

Select your business continuity team

Start to pave the way for collaboration during times of uncertainty by building your business continuity team.

Your response team should be made up of the best people from different parts of your business. Choose people based on knowledge of your organisation and how trusted they are both inside and outside of it. Consider the benefits of selecting team members not in management positions. This creates higher employee engagement and incorporates the ideas from employees who are on the front lines.

Inspire this team to believe in new possibilities and opportunities. They should be comfortable setting stretch goals especially during challenging times and must leverage their creativity while balancing practicality to solve the different problems your business faces.

These individuals must be comfortable dealing with conflict on their teams. Business continuity teams will face a wide range of emotions throughout their projects and during public health events, such as COVID-19, they must be prepared for team members to get sick or be quarantined.

Fostering critical thinking skills

During periods of uncertainty, when things are rapidly changing day by day, and sometimes even minute by minute, you want to ensure you are making the best possible decisions for your business, your colleagues, and your customers. One of the best ways to do this is by mastering critical thinking skills in yourself and fostering it among your team.

Here are five components to consider with improving your critical thinking skills.

  1. Creativity
    Critical thinkers are curious, ask powerful questions, and have a high tolerance for views different from their own. They combine different ideas to create better solutions.
  2. Problem solving
    Critical thinkers often approach problems in a consistent and systematic way which allows them to quickly work through scenarios and determine what is most critical.
  3. Open-mindedness
    They are willing to examine different perspectives from many people in the organisation.
  4. Analytical
    They set up systems that prioritise what needs to be done in what order for maximum impacts and results.
  5. Communication
    They can communicate effectively with others and confidently share ideas that may challenge the traditional thinking in order to provide a better solution.

Communicate for connection

The best leaders communicate in a way that shows people you have their best interests at heart.

Business uncertainty is an opportunity to strengthen relationships and as a result, you can become a trusted partner and leader in your stakeholder communities. The best leaders understand it’s not just what they say but also how they are being understood.

Here are some tips to help your communication during uncertainty.

  • Leverage technology to create communication hubs
  • Look for informal opportunities to talk with others
  • Check in with your stakeholders to make sure people understand your message’s meaning
  • Express appreciation and respect for others when they share opinions that are different from your own
  • Learn how to disagree without intimidating or silencing others
  • Update people on a regular basis, even when there isn’t much to be shared.

The last point bears repeating. Few people regard no news as good news during uncertainty. It’s better to over communicate and say nothing’s changed than leave people hanging.

In summary

Managing uncertainty through collaboration provides new opportunities for leadership development throughout your organisation. Team members from different functions and ranks can strengthen the effectiveness of your business continuity team making it possible for your business to quickly adapt to changing business conditions.