MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you lead a team during a time of transition? is written by Sandi Peterson, group worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson.
No matter what industry you’re a part of, or where you sit in the world, there is one thing we cannot avoid: businesses are shifting more rapidly than ever – a trend that I only see accelerating into the future. With that comes a need for organizations and teams to shift to continue to meet, and exceed, the expectations of their customers. There are a few key leadership characteristics that I believe not only help alleviate anxiety that inevitably results from times of transition, but more importantly, can actually rouse excitement amongst teams during this time:
Stay externally focused
I always remind my team to take a step back and ask themselves: ‘Why are we doing this?’ For us, 100% of the time, it is to better serve our patients, consumers, and customers. This is a great question to come back to when your team is losing focus; it reduces stress and mobilizes people to get excited about the collective possibility.
Play the long game while winning the short one
Managing through ambiguity can be difficult for even the most experienced leaders. Defining a clear set of goals for your team demonstrates that there is an end in sight. However, it’s crucial during this time to move through the transition in phases. Go after early wins that will have the potential to create real impact and get people excited, leading to increased productivity and a desire to achieve more.
Agility is fundamental to leading a team through times of change. Build an environment that empowers your team to take risks. Set metrics for what needs to be achieved and measure against them to track progress along the way. If targets aren’t being met, challenge your team to reassess and come back with a new strategy. And create a culture where people are awarded for challenging the status quo.
Connect the dots
As leaders we tend to have higher points of visibility across our companies and, in some cases, across geographies. I take this unique position to harness the knowledge and expertise of the enterprise and connect my team with the appropriate resources they need to be successful. Just as critical, I look for opportunities to remove obstacles or shift a challenge into a possibility for them to achieve their goals, where it makes sense. Encourage collaboration wherever possible – I find it always leads to better outcomes for my team and my stakeholders.
Most importantly, I focus on and celebrate the successes of my people along the journey. Supporting and aligning with your team can go a very long way. Because at the end of the day, we’re all in this together.