Turning on a Dime: 5 Key Practices in Dynamic Leadership

Article by Shawn Barham, General Manager – Midwest Region

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that change is the only thing we can count on. After all, we’re in unknown territory.

In that way, really, it’s not that different from business as usual in the fabrication, construction, and maintenance sectors — dealing with the unknown and unexpected with our intuition to guide us. Ask anyone who has led successfully, and they’ll tell you it involves a lot of thinking on one’s feet.

Dynamic leadership — the style of decision-making that finds its success based on being able to manage and capitalize on change – is what is needed right now. Luckily for Enerfab, we’ve been employing this style of leadership for ages. Using it to manage our response to this pandemic and beyond was just a matter of focusing our efforts.

Let’s break dynamic leadership down into specific practices and look at how you can employ each one to improve your response to the unexpected.

Do not run from reality.

While it’s tempting during any crisis to wait, let the dust settle, and go back to business when everything returns to normal, that’s a good way to get left behind.

Dynamic leaders accept the reality of the situation and adapt to meet the challenges within that reality. Of course, they gather the facts, but then they quickly make difficult decisions for necessary change.

Be bold — the world will not wait on you. You do not want to be the last one selling buggy whips.

Be ok with gray areas.

Not every situation is black and white for a leader — in fact, most are not. Sometimes you have to live in the gray, get feedback from your team, go with your instincts, and have the courage to know you may have to live with any mistakes you make.

And if (when) you do make mistakes, pivot quickly when more evidence suggests part of your decision needs to be altered. Most leaders regret not taking action when they needed to, because you never get back your most precious resource — time.

Celebrate your successes as they come.

Sometimes it feels like everything that is coming your way is negative (particularly in 2020). When that happens, get out of that rut and look for positives. You cannot make great decisions from what feels like a losing position.

Also, make sure you’re celebrating with your team loudly and immediately. Sometimes people wait until they’re seeing dramatic, consistent success before they make a big deal. Don’t do this! Even when simply treading water counts as a win — celebrate!

Overcommunicate. We dare you.

In today’s world of real-time everything, “overcommunicating” is simply not possible. Transparency and candor are always beneficial and almost always appreciated long-term, even if the truth is not pleasant to hear in the short-term.

It’s ok to be optimistic to keep spirits up but also be real with your team. In the end, everyone will like being treated like strong individuals who are capable of growing, learning, and doing better each time. Which leads us to …

Be respectful.

While you are making difficult decisions, be respectful of your people. The decisions you make impact people’s lives and you need to remember that. Lead like you’re the servant of your team, always balancing their needs with what will benefit the business.

Dynamic leadership isn’t easy to employ if you or your company are rooted in an older, top-down, cloistered form of decision making. It will take practice, lots of team buy-in, and making some mistakes … or as we like to call them, “opportunities to learn.” But right now, it’s the right kind of leadership to get us through.

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