8 Ways to Step Up Your Leadership Game When the Going Gets Tough
By Laura Knauer
After spending the majority of my career immersed in the fields of K-12 education, business, and coaching, I found my way to Salesforce in 2015. A friend let me know that an IT team had a role he thought I would be perfect for, one conversation led to another, and soon I found myself as the Senior Manager of Techforce, our global, 24/7 service desk that provides end user support to all Salesforce employees.
I recently became responsible for the “back office” — the team of Techforce analysts that provide phone and live chat support, application support, software asset management, quality assurance and training, and more. Taking on a team of almost 90 people located in Oregon, Dublin, and soon Hyderabad is a challenge … but not nearly my biggest challenge.
At the time I joined, the IT department had just gone through a shift, and the local Techforce team in Hillsboro was looking to me to help them get through the transition. I not only had to gain their trust and respect as someone new to the company with no prior IT experience, but also had to figure out how to put my people on the path to success.
As leaders, we know that things won’t always be easy, and that many situations in the workplace are out of our control. Yet if we thoughtfully approach challenges as growth opportunities — for ourselves, our teams, and our companies — we can emerge from them not only surviving, but thriving.
If your team has gone through a tough transition — whether that means a leadership change, an acquisition, or anything else — I hope you will benefit from eight practices that helped me lead teams through change .
1. Be confident. Before I joined Salesforce, I had minimal knowledge of software or IT, and from the beginning wasn’t sure I was qualified. Yet someone else was confident that I could do the job, and that inspired me to own and celebrate my strengths and skills. After all, if I didn’t have confidence in my ability to lead my team through this challenging time, no one else would, either.
2. Listen closely. I set up 1–1s, asked lots of open-ended questions, and listened to the biggest pain points. I got to know the people on my team and what drives them, and was able to show that I cared, that I wanted to understand their viewpoints, and that I was serious about moving forward together.
3. Take action. Once I discovered issues, I addressed them as soon as possible. I acted on the low-hanging fruit first and tried to create meaningful change quickly — change that didn’t rock to boat too much but still inspired confidence in my ability to find solutions.
4. Be authentic. A good leader needs to be themselves on the job, not put on a show. I was always direct and honest with my people, made sure expectations were clear, and communicated transparently to help us get through the transition smoothly.
5. Trust your people. I genuinely trusted my employees to work hard and do their best. I respected them, advocated for them, and encouraged them throughout the process. As a result, I think it was natural for them to trust me in return.
6. Rely on your management team. They are here to help you, and to guide you through any challenging circumstances. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask for assistance. I wouldn’t have survived my first six months without my management team!
7. Prioritize balance. In order to bring my best self to work and be fully present for my team, I had to strike a healthy work and life balance. I spent quality time with my friends, myself, my son, and my boyfriend, and pursued activities that boosted my happiness and creativity, like snowboarding, painting, and even illustrating a children’s book!
8. See the bigger picture. While it’s important to get involved in the details, it’s also critical as a leader to have a view of the larger vision you are trying to achieve. Sharing this vision with your team you will help everyone focus on what’s important so that you can come out on the other side stronger than ever.
The Salesforce Woman of the Month campaign turns the spotlight on the amazing women who help make Salesforce one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies according to Forbes and one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Companies to Work For. Honorees are nominated by fellow employees and selected by a dedicated committee that works to ensure a variety of roles and regions are honored.
To hear more from Laura, make sure to connect with her on LinkedIn. And stay tuned for more insights from our next Salesforce Woman of the Month, coming your way in April.
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Originally published at www.salesforce.com.