Active Voice: How to lead from the kitchen table

If you are leading a team from your new office environment – AKA the kitchen – and wondering how to stay on top of work and keep your staff engaged and productive, we have some great tips to keep you on track.

  1. Be clearer than ever about your team’s purpose. This may have changed since the lockdown, if only temporarily. A team that has a strong sense of purpose is more engaged.
  2. Be the leader you aspire to be. Be clear about how you come across as a leader; think about what it’s like to be led by you and how you’re seen as a leader by your team and try to bridge any gaps.
  3. Re-contract with your team. All our relationships with members of our team have a “contract” eg. performance expectations; emotional and physical availability; how we communicate. What does this contract look like under Covid-19 and now that we are physically separate? Especially regarding communication. There may be times when people can’t speak or would prefer to communicate by phone/Zoom instead of email to have more human engagement. It may be advisable to use an email footer along the lines of: “I’m sending this email at a time that suits me, but please feel free to respond at a time that suits you.”
  4. Adapt your leadership style to meet your team’s needs either: a) according to each team member’s style and preferences, b) according to their skills, experience and competence or c) according to what motivates them – find out by asking them what they enjoy and value.
  5. Use structure, but lightly. This will help with business planning. In the current situation, it has been established that people like structure; it helps them to feel valued. Bring structure to your week and decide which team “events” should be mandatory and which should be optional.
  6. Help the team to stay resilient. Make it acceptable for individuals to say, “I’m not ok.” It’s your job as a leader to make sure your team knows that. You can role-model your own vulnerability, talk about your feelings and what you need help on - and how you’ve coped - and encourage people to find something that works for them. However, don’t expect it to be the same as what works for you.
  7. Help manage individuals’ anxieties. Reassure people, where you can. Be transparent and honest and be upfront about what you don’t know i.e. “I’m not sure about the long-term impact of this.”
  8. Be flexible and have fun eg. organise team quizzes and encourage team ideas. Perhaps even suggest taking part in a Joe Wicks team fitness workout.

This sage advice formed the basis of a webinar in Voice At The Table’s new Tuesday@10 series.