In this article, I want to share with you a story about Sue. Through Sue’s story, you’ll see the subtle signs of how she is emerging as a leader in a crisis.
My hope is that you will recognise some of these signs in the emerging leaders in your organisation and help them grow and flourish.
The Big Announcement
It’s a morning of apprehension as a big announcement is due out from senior management.
The business has initiated its continuity plans. Business users in the same team will be split across multiple sites to ensure the critical business unit continues to function.
Technology will need to provide on the ground systems support coverage at each site.
Sue is part of the technology team that provides the first line of support to the business users.
She is asked by her manager, along with some of her peers to go to one of the other business sites and provide support coverage.
A Leadership Vision
The next day, Sue and the rest of the support team get to the business site at 5 am, so they can set up their systems before the business users arrive.
Sue got up at 3:30 am to get to work at this time. As it’s outside of regular commuting hours, the business paid for a taxi for her.
When she arrives, there is a large seating chart on the wall showing the location of everyone’s desk. It takes her a while to find her desk on the seating chart and even longer to find where it is located on the large floor.
When she eventually finds her desk, she starts up her computer. She has a few niggles getting all the systems she needs working, but nothing she can’t deal with.
She is starting to feel tired from getting up so earlier and goes and grabs a coffee.
As she drinks her hot coffee, she thinks to herself – how long is this going to disrupt my routine? She also thinks about how others are impacted.
All of a sudden, a question pops in her head. A question that gives her an exciting feeling in the pit of her stomach.
How can I make it easier for other people to adapt to this change?
She thinks about the question as she walks back to her desk.
On her way back, she recognises a business user looking confused at the seating chart.
That’s it she thinks to herself. I am going to make it as seamless as possible for every person to settle into their new desk and start work today.
Sue’s just created her leadership vision.
Creating a Strategy
She walks over to the business users and says, “Hi Joe, I’m Sue from the support desk, let me help you find your desk and get set up.”
Joe smiles, says “that would be great Sue” and follows Sue to his desk. Sue helps him get his computer started, fixes any system issues and then tells him where she is sitting and reminds him of the support telephone number.
Sue says to Joe, “Just come over or gives a call if you have any issues.”
Joe says “Thanks Sue, that is great. It’s been a nightmare of a commute this morning, and you’ve just made my morning a little easier.”
“You’re welcome, Joe.”
Sue had proactively created her strategy
Sue walks back to where her peers are seated and said, “Hey guys, you know we had a few problems finding our desks and getting are systems set up this morning. Well, let’s make it easier for the business users when they arrive to find their seats and get setup rather than waiting for them to call the support number.”
“Great idea Sue,” said one of Sue’s peers, Claire. “But as we still have to answer the phones, why don’t you wait at the seating chart and call us over when you need us?”.
“Ok,” said Sue and walked over to the seating chart.
Sue has just got buy-in for her leadership vision and adjusted her strategy from feedback.
As the morning went on, Sue greeted the business users as they arrived and with the help of her colleagues, got them all set up and running.
Throughout the rest of the day, Sue walked the floor and ensured everyone was ok and with the help of her colleagues fixed issues if they weren’t.
Sue has shown the subtle signs of an emerging leader and without intention, created the following career outcomes.
- Raised her profile across the business user community and started to create a professional relationship – they now know, like and trust her. As she builds these relationships, these business users can become her future sponsors or mentors.
- Raised her visibility with her senior bosses as the business users proactively give feedback to her bosses.
- Her peers are starting to follow her and will continue to as long as they respect her.
Note to Self
New leaders will continue to emerge out of a crisis.
It’s up to us as senior leaders to recognise these emerging leaders from the subtle signs and ensure they continue to grow and flourish.