Their World Has Turned Upside Down. How Do You Lead Your Team?

7 Traits of affiliative leadership

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned people’s worlds upside down. It’s changed how people shop, how they work, and how they connect with others. Perhaps most pertinently, it has affected people’s mental health. Many are scared for the future. They are worried about their jobs, their family, and their ability to live a ‘normal life’.

A Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll found that the number of adults reporting negative impacts on their mental health because of coronavirus stress had increased to 53% in July 2020 from 32% in March 2020. As we (hopefully) emerge from the worst effects of the pandemic, your employees’ fears and concerns are unlikely to recede quickly. 

As we evolve to the new normal (whatever that is), the workplace environment, practices, policies, and procedures that your people have become used to are likely to continue to change. People are likely to be on a roller coaster ride of emotions for some time yet.

The question is, how do you keep your employees happy and engaged to retain them? The answer is to promote positivity, collaboration, a good team spirit, and a sense of community which stands on the foundation of a collective purpose.

In this article we introduce you to a leadership style that helps you achieve these goals and lead effectively through a crisis – affiliative leadership.

7 key traits of affiliative leadership

Your employees will look toward your organization and its leaders to guide them through the coming months and years. They will have been shaken by events, and any setbacks will create negativity. They will feel uncertain for the future. 

Leaders must remember that while they cannot control all that happens internally and externally, they can control their response. To lead your people effectively through this period, you must:

  1. Remain positive

You’ve been in similar positions before. You’ve overcome them. Focus on your objectives and what can be done to achieve them. Don’t be thwarted by circumstance, adapt to it.

  1. Stay true to your purpose

Be led by your values, and stay true to your purpose. Ensure that your mission statement is not mundane, but inspiring. Ensure that your employee engagement strategy is delivered by effective communication.

  1. Express your vulnerability

Despite your positivity, you will not have faced anything quite like this before. The scale of complexity and change is huge. Your employees know this. Therefore, it is important to admit and show your vulnerability. Be human. Be empathetic.

  1. Care about your employees

Show that you care about your people by understanding their feelings and their needs. Could you offer flexibility in working practices and conditions, such as offering more flexible hours? How well do you listen to your employees and act on feedback?

  1. Be inspirational and motivational

Motivate your people by recognizing and rewarding good performance that aligns with organizational values and purpose. Encourage people to help create their own futures by helping them to work together – providing the environment in which to do so and the tools with which to do so.

In team meetings, encourage the sharing of ideas to develop a more creative approach to execution of tasks, team strategies, and planning.

  1. Develop team spirit

As people experience the emotional push/pull, they may act out of character. Conflict management will be an important quality in all leaders: carefront instead of confront to address breakdowns in communication.

Leaders will also need to ensure that they provide feedback positively – even when the feedback is negative.

  1. Be mindful of external influences

Affiliative leaders do all the above while remaining alert to external influences that may affect their employees’ wellbeing. These influences may be within the organization but external to the team, or be from outside of the organization.

Awareness of these influences will enable leaders to strategize early, tackling concerns before they develop and ensuring a positive response to the evolution of the crisis and the changes that are required to navigate it successfully.

In summary

To lead effectively in this time of crisis, you must lead with empathy and compassion. You must motivate, encourage, and inspire. You must also be attentive to internal and external influences.

The challenge for leaders has never been more difficult. This crisis has not yet passed. There will be other crises in the future, too. Are your leaders equipped with the skillset to lead your organization through the roller coaster of your employees’ emotions that could turn your organization upside down?

To learn more about developing effective leadership and management skills, connect with Forward Focus today.


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