3 Ways to Empower Your Team to Innovate During Uncertain Times

The leadership strategies that turn challenging times into business breakthroughs.
3 Ways to Empower Your Team to Innovate During Uncertain Times
Image credit: Thomas Barwick | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer
CEO of ThermoGenesis
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While 2020 caught many people and businesses off guard, it’s been inspiring to see the resulting selflessness, courage and creativity. Entire industries have been forced to invent new streams of revenue and pivot business operations overnight to deal with the pandemic situation. And, while difficult times can certainly trigger a desire to hunker down and ride out the storm, it’s critical that leaders forge ahead by empowering their teams to remain inventive.

For many leaders, there was no option to lay low during the global crisis — people relied on their services to survive — and so there became this incredible drive to adapt for the greater good. However, it’s up to the leaders to encourage this mindset. Below are a few tips I’ve used at ThermoGenesis to help motivate and empower my teams to keep their foot on the gas — even during uncertain times.

Don’t stray from goal setting

It can be easy to have seemingly routine tasks fall by the wayside in a time of crisis. After all, it’s hard to feel like a goalsetting meeting is worth the time when people are being pulled in different directions each day. However, a sense of normalcy and future planning will help your team maintain a sense of calm and security, allowing them to use their energy to be creative instead of worrying. So, make time to check in and goal set, as the forward-thinking mentality will help your staff to keep pushing the envelope.

Related: Emotional Intelligence is the Secret to Leadership in Times of Crisis

Build a culture that encourages questions

Questions, like What’s next? or How can we make this better? will keep moving the needle for innovation, so incorporate these into your interactions with team members. In early 2020, we made the executive decision to pivot to launch quick tests that would help detect COVID-19. After working for months to launch an antibody test that was both easy to read and administer, we asked, “where do we go from here?” The response to that question resulted in an added device that records the results in a cloud, perfect for tracking and developing treatments for coronavirus. By building question-asking into the framework of your interactions with team members, you’re encouraging others to do the same — creating a workplace that is constantly thinking of ways to improve.

Related: Before Launching a Business, Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

Stay present and connected

Now is not the time for leaders to go dark, even if it’s for good reason, like being preoccupied with big picture strategy. Continue to make yourself available and be present. Attend meetings and brainstorms to keep your team on their toes and motivate them to show up with groundbreaking ideas. Take advantage of regular communications, like an e-newsletter that shares policy updates, and add a note of encouragement or share your personal email to promote open and honest discussion. During times of uncertainty, it’s critical that leaders are not only visible but also confident, as this allows team members to push forward without worry.

Times of uncertainty should be viewed by leaders as an opportunity to showcase their strengths. By being present, encouraging questions, and setting goals, your team will feel secure and empowered to help you propel your business forward.

Related: How You Can Build a More Resilient Team

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