Our world is in crisis at the current moment with the coronavirus pandemic. As we navigate our roles in our clients businesses, what are ways we can show up and serve? How can we be a steady, reliable voice that can help keep things moving forward? How can we truly prove our value?
The emotional toll this change has brought is just now starting to be realized. I’m currently in the middle of delivering the 4th round of my Director of Operations Certification program, and on our live call this last week, I noticed a theme amongst several of my students who are in client relationships. The question was:
“How do I show up to fully support my leader who is in crisis?”
Crisis right now can look a variety of ways, but one of the main ways it is affecting business owners is in regards to their finances. Potential financial changes are causing leaders to make irrational financial decisions.
“The leaders you have partnered with are different… the ways you have supported them in the past are going to have to change to meet them where they are today.”
Ways To Manage Up
1. Focus on Delivering Value
If you focus on your gifts, and really delivering at this time, you are going to take stress off of them. You don’t actually need to do anything different; you already have this inside you and this is why they chose to hire you. Channel your first 30-60 days, and mimic the peak delivery of those days. This will help you with maintaining this relationship you’ve nurtured, and the financial stability of the relationship for a longer period of time.
2. Emotionally Support Your Leader
Be empathetic and listen to them. Conversations may not always be about strategy but may be about family dynamics or whatever they are going through. Personality matters when we build teams. Leverage your personality, and be a good friend.
Make sure you understand and uphold your boundaries, but don’t over-serve your leader and under-serve yourself. We often help so much that we can be self sacrificial. Remember, you are also balancing a lot of the same things your leader is. You may have to adjust how you’ve been working in the past, because we are all living different lives than we have in the past.
“Not only is your leader different, realize you are different too.”
3. Communicate Clearly
Let them know when you will be available to help them. Give them your boundaries, and let them know your availability and what they can expect. The clearer you can be with them, the more they can leverage you.
Take Strategic Action
The truth is that no one knows where this ends, and that creates an enormous amount of stress. There is a lack of control for these business owners, but this is an opportunity for you to provide value in this situation.
Set Up a Meeting
Get ahead of this and schedule a call to brainstorm:
- Is there a new offer or opportunity?
- Is there a new communication method for their audience?
- Is there a new strategic direction for the business that you can help navigate?
- Make sure you understand your most important objective within the business (which may have changed)
“Everyone will have to change… be the leader they need you to be.”
“You really manage up when you take charge of the conversation and bring valuable insights to that conversation.”
Strategically Prepare Yourself
Think about your client and what their priorities are. Come prepared with different ideas about how you can bring value through thought leadership, team leadership, and ideation. You will see the stress melt off of them when they understand you are ready to deliver.
“Directors of operations give three things to businesses: direction, clarity, and a plan.“
Mentally Prepare Yourself
You will also need to mentally prepare yourself. Your client will lean on you for emotional support, factual support, and for strength.
- Make sure you know your limits and how your work life is shifting
- Make sure you have dedicated time without distractions
- Be sure you are equipped with the right mindset
All of this will allow you to show up as a different level of leader in this crisis, and prove yourself as an invaluable member of the team.
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