Leadership in a Pandemic Reality Part Four: Leading with Relationships


So far in this series about practicing leadership during the challenges of the pandemic, we’ve explored ideas related to leading with selfleading with vision and leading with action.

In Part Three: Leading with Action, we discussed the difficult, but critical task of delegating work to members of your team. Each of us knows that uncomfortable position of being accountable for key contributions to your organization, but not being directly responsible for carrying out the work. This is an important part of leading with relationships. It requires that others see you as someone they want to follow and support. To accomplish this, the three dimensions we’ve previously discussed in the series are critical: 1) know yourself, 2) have a vision of what you hope to achieve, and 3) be consistent in your behaviors.

Making sure your key relationships are healthy is important in the best of times; in a pandemic, it’s even more meaningful. If you have not had your team take personality, motivation or leadership assessments, now might be a good time. Not only will it offer you insight as a leader, but it may also give others information about themselves that is helpful to know under these circumstances. Knowing what motivates your team members and other key stakeholders with whom you are concerned helps you better understand actions and reactions and manage expectations.

Hopefully, you are surrounded by a wide range of different kinds of relationships and personalities. This diversity in the workplace helps expand thinking and perspective, which – in most situations – allows you to reach better outcomes, achieve better results and create more buy-in.

Of course, when you have diversity of thought, people are likely to disagree. Be prepared for great debates and to resolve conflict along the way. Conflicts are often tied to communication issues, assumptions and perceptions. As a leader, your job is to guide others through the discussions – even when there is not a right or wrong answer – align as a team and move forward. It is not always easy, but open communication gives everyone a voice and usually leads to the optimal outcome.  

Reflect on a recent conflict your team experienced. How effectively did you assist in resolution? Did the discussion lead you to a stronger outcome? Reflecting on these real-life examples can be some of the most powerful opportunities for growth you have.

If relationship management sounds hard, it’s no surprise. A tool that can boost confidence and competence in your relationships is a personal board of directors (PBoD). This PBoD should not be made up of your friends. It’s a carefully chosen group of people who represent different skills, knowledge and abilities you may not have yet and those on which you want to work. Your PBoD offers you a safe sounding board, especially if members are outside your working relationships. Think about what skills you need and where you might find individuals who have them who would be willing to participate in your PBoD. Define how you will prepare to engage them, when and how.

Over the past months, there have been many setbacks and disappointments, but there have also been some silver linings. Many of us have found the time and space to connect with people with whom we haven’t talked in a while. Each of these connections in an opportunity to continue developing yourself as a leader and a person. Consider what you have already gained and what you continue to gain from these conversations – whether it be insight about yourself, positive reinforcement from a mentor or the chance to help another person on his or her own path. These conversations can be powerful reminders of how far you’ve come and illuminate where you want to go – pandemic or not.

Read the first three parts of this series in Part One: Leading with Self, Part Two: Leading with Vision and Part Three: Leading with Action