Axios HQ recently led a webinar titled “5 ways to lead and inspire through uncertainty” with DoorDash VP of Communications and Policy Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean and Axios CEO Jim VandeHei.
The two talked about a number of different approaches and explained that, with fear of a looming recession, inflation creeping up, and so many other business challenges arising daily, effectively communicating and leading in uncertain times could make or break your business.
Leaders have the power and responsibility, they explain, to help employees feel supported, informed, and empowered to ease that anxiety and stay engaged.
Jarvis-Shean and VandeHei shared five ways we can all be stronger leaders and communicators in moments of uncertainty:
- Use crisis to focus people. Crisis and uncertainty present an opportunity for leaders to step up and unite employees on a common path forward. As Jarvis-Shean said, it’s the chance to say “grab your oar and this is the direction I need everyone to row in.”
- Listen. Listen. Listen. The most important voices are the people trusting in you. Ask them what they need to know, what will motivate them, and what answers they are searching for — then give that to them.
- It’s OK to not have all the answers. Honesty not only builds trust, but it makes you seem more human. Share what you do know, what you’re working to discover, and when they will get your next update.
- Be transparent. “There’s enormous power in transparency,” Jarvis-Shean says. Use that to build trust, be open, and communicate in a straightforward way.
- Don’t be something you’re not. Find your authentic voice as a leader — whether that’s through written messages or videos. Find what you do well, and use it to communicate effectively.
She also explained that there are three leadership rules to follow:
- Communicate more, not less. Find out what employees want to be hearing from you, and communicate that back.
- Be real. Nobody trusts a phony, and if they sense you’re lying to them or using a fake personality, you’ll lose their trust.
- Get 1% better every day. Do little things each day to improve. That includes holding yourself accountable and telling your team that you’re working on your leadership skills.
Listening to your employees may be the most important step of all because it can highlight the questions and concerns they have and show you as a leader what needs to be done.
As we move into the new year and prepare to face the uncertainty ahead, make sure to take a minute to think about how you’re leading your team and how that’s going to move everyone forward.