Business Interactions: Leading during uncertain times


We nervously looked around the metro station.  No one else was there.  We were all alone and it was getting late.  The train had dropped us off at a closed station by the Lincoln Memorial.  Rushing through the station we finally saw a brighter area and found the attendant locking the gates to the stairs leading out.  She was as shocked as we were relieved.  As we walked to the monument, my sister commented “When we panic, we don’t read.  We desperately seek someone to follow.”  In our anxiety, we had missed all of the signs around the station that showed operation hours and what to do in an emergency.  That was my first introduction to the benefits of neuroscience in leadership.

Neuroleadership:  application of neuroscience to leadership development, management training, change management education, consulting, and coaching

In this chaotic time, your employees are like my sister and me in the closed metro station.  Now, more than ever, they need your leadership.  Brain science supplies leadership tools so you can help your employees feel secure and remain productive through the uncertainty that we will continue to experience for a while longer.  Below are a few neuroleadership lessons in layman’s terms.

SHARE INFORMATION   Think to a past time when whispers of lay-offs were heard.  Employees became afraid, gossip and conjectures flourished, and productivity drastically declined.  When humans don’t know, we seek to fill that gap.  As a leader, keeping your employees “in the know” to the best you can is one of the easiest and most effective ways to instill loyalty, productivity, and feelings of status.  Even if you don’t know, admitting it, along with comments about being in this together, and a promise to share when you do know, will provide a sense of certainty.  A vacuum of communication creates more stress.

HAND OVER SOME CONTROL   When our world feels out of control, the ability to control something – anything – will provide a sense of security.  Allow your employees to control some aspect of their work, time schedule, decision making, or process restructuring.  Chances are, your staff knows their work tasks better than you and will make good choices.

PROVIDE FOCUS   In chaos, it is difficult to see the path.  Our brains jump from problem to problem without direction.  On a regular basis, great leaders provide the big picture of the work and ask basic questions of the team to help them focus and reexamine priorities, solutions, and tasks.

TEAM ACTIVITY   Worry causes us to focus inward, on ourselves, which interferes with a healthy perspective.  Volunteering, as a team, will generate huge rewards for the company, the team, and each individual.  It can create a “we’re all in this together” mentality.  “Together” is a mentality you want for your team.  It feels good to do good for other people.  Organizations that support volunteerism are perceived as more progressive by the highly talented labor pool. 

The constant stress brought on both directly and indirectly by the pandemic can result in an amygdala hijack, an overwhelming sense of threat around us.  Small leadership changes to provide security, guidance, focus, information, and a larger picture can return your team to higher productivity and a renewed sense of peace amid these not so peaceful times.

Teri Haynes | Business Interactions, LLC | Improving human interactions in business

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