So how do you position your people for Brexit. Have you even thought about it? What have you got? What is needed? Who do you need to lose if you want to get through this? Who do you need to bring in? Who is going to lead the business through such rapid change? How are you going to deal with the change saboteurs? Will your staff want to stay with you and work hard for you?
To cut to the chase and keep it simple, here is a two year guide to positioning yourself for successful leadership through Brexit.
Key Leadership Skills Needed:
Vision and Insight: The answers and relevant information aren’t yet available so do you have a team with the vision and insight to identify what might come to help you plan and prepare? If your senior team is sitting back and waiting to be ‘told’ then ‘Houston, we have a problem’. You need at least a few to have great vision and insight about what shape the business might take in the years to come and how business plans might be impact by Brexit and what opportunities might be opening up too.
Excellent Communication: Staff need to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Employees are seldom comforted by silence just because there is no ‘news’. Communication needs to be regular, both in writing and verbal, plus given through social media and using every communication channel you have. It needs to address employee concerns about job security, pay, business continuity, fears and worries. You can never communicate enough or in enough different ways.
Confidence: If your senior team run around like headless chickens, then your staff will have no confidence they are going to be successfully led through Brexit. Can you afford to lose good staff because they feel the business lacks confidence? This will be especially important in those businesses with a leadership team who were vocal Remain supporters, especially if some of them continue to bemoan what has happened rather than focus on the future.
Knowledgeable: Senior teams need now more than ever a really firm grasp of their own business, industry and sector trends. They need to read and network and be fully up to speed all of the time. Plus, senior teams need to grasp the financials, not just leaving it to one FD. Financials including vulnerabilities, market segments, profit margins etc. They also need to know what staff you have, what the characteristics of those staff are, and the what and why of current resourcing needs. Lots of knowledge about every single aspect of the business. This is not a time for complacency or guess work.
Planning and organisation: There comes a time when some solid planning and organisation is required to ensure stability and security. If you have a senior team who is better at the talking than the doing, then you will have a problem. If you have a senior team that is full of egos, then equally you will have a problem when some of the jobs like planning and organising, that seldom carry much ‘glory’ are being handed out. Get rid of the egos. Its time to stand up and get on with what needs to be done.
Communication: We’ve talked about communication so here’s a little quote to serve as a reminder: “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. Who is doing it? Who is being missed out of the message? Who is getting mixed messages? Who thinks that what is being communicated is a load of cobblers with little clarity or clear thinking behind it?
Ability to inspire and create trust: When people are wobbling, unsure of their jobs, unsure of security of family income, when life is changing almost chaotically, staff need a leadership team that inspires and creates trust. Who in your top team would be considered genuinely inspirational? If you have no one, you need to sort this fast. You need someone your staff will look up to and wait to be guided by. Equally, if you have someone in your top team who does the exact opposite of this, is it time to consider whether they have become too dangerous to your business success?
Strategic thinking: Once some of the details begin to become clearer then comes the time to utilise the strategic thinking skills of your senior team. What needs to change? What doesn’t need to change? Do we have the right people and equipment in the right places? Where are the opportunities? Where are the challenges? You might also think about whether your strategic thinkers get enough air time in meetings. Sometimes it’s the thinkers that get talked over, meaning that you don’t get to hear their great ideas. Give them air time.
Project management: With the potential for the business markets, resourcing, legislation etc. changing, you will need to be setting up and running numerous projects if everything is to be delivered in time and without stress. This is going to require strong project management understanding and skills. Do you have that on your team? If you intend to ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ with nor real project management process, what is the worst case scenario if deadlines or opportunities are missed?
Communication: We’ve said it before, so we’ll say it again! Communication, communication communication and here is another quote to serve as a great reminder: “sometimes what a person needs is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a patient heart that listens”. Not everyone considers listening an essential communication skill… But it is. Do not underestimate the power of listening.
Confidence: When all of the world feels as though it is in chaos, you need a leadership team who will remain strong and confident in the plan and in their own skills. They don’t want to show arrogance, but confidence in what they say and do and confidence in the top team will spread a sense of ease and well-being, this is essential if you want business to grow and prosper during changing times.
Empathy: Whilst many in the top team won’t, can’t or don’t show their worries and stresses, this is not the case for many employees who will thrive best in a challenging environment if their leaders are able to demonstrate they are good listeners and empathetic to the concerns and stresses of others. Emotional intelligence might be a term that is bandied around too much, but don’t underestimate the importance of leaders who are in tune with and demonstrate a concern for their staff. You might also take time to challenge some of your top team who don’t show their emotions, hidden emotion does not equate to no emotion or stress, provide an opportunity for them to talk and be listened to just as you do for others.
Problem solving: During any period of change, the obstacles we all face are constant and often enormous. So you need a leadership team that solves problems easily and with enthusiasm. You can’t afford a team that dwells on problems and loves to the play the blame game. Instead you need positive, solution focused problem solvers and hopefully you will have a few innovative and create thinkers amongst them as there will be no ‘precedent’ for what we are about to go through in business.
Communication: Ah! This old chestnut often done badly or too little and the bane of every leaders life so here’s another quote to keep you thinking! “a lot of problems in business would disappear if we talked to each other rather than about each other”
Drive: It takes energy and determination with a hefty dose of resilience to push through to get to the other side. Brexit is going to be a long drawn out period of intense change, lots of uncertainty, and probably business instability too. You need to make sure your senior team are fit for the long haul, that they don’t just think they can work a few weeks of long hours and it will all be done. This will be a marathon and they need to pace themselves so they have the drive to push through right to the end.
Team Working: If your leaders work on another ‘floor’ and act as if they are on another planet (often a far more lofty one than the worker bees) then you might be in for trouble. This will be a time for leaders to roll their sleeves up, be seen in and around the business and to get stuck in to show that they are true team players when working towards a common goal. Time to get rid of any leaders who are just in it for the ego, prestige or because no one has yet dared tell them they are past their sell by date.
Interested in some key tools to support?
Thomas 360 leadership survey – why not survey your leadership team now and identify the key skills different individuals would benefit from developing? It’s rare that leaders ever get genuine and clear feedback on how they are doing and how they are perceived and whilst it’s not always a comfortable experience, how on earth can they know what to work at if they never get any feedback? Find out more
Success Insights or Thomas Profiling – see who you have on your senior team. Do you have the required mix of personalities and traits required to see you through? Take this opportunity to use profiling to ensure the top team understand how they can work most effectively together and play to each other’s strengths. Find out more
Developing people management skills – put your senior team through a programme that ensures they understand how to manage people, deal with difficult people, support through change, dismiss the saboteurs and emotional vampires, set realistic targets and coach their team to achieve high performance. Find out more
Emotional Intelligence Profiling – another tool available from Jaluch for you to assess where the challenges and opportunities will lie amongst your senior team. Do you understand where the strengths are? Do you know who might undermine your best efforts at staff morale? Time to bite the bullet and find it all out. Find out more