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How to Make 2020 the Year You Upped Your Leadership Game

By Krister Ungerböck – Global CEO, Entrepreneur and Speaker on the Language of Leadership

Leadership Keynote krister ungerbock Speakers Bureau The Sweeney Agency

What makes a good leader? It’s a question that has rarely been as relevant as in 2020, which might well be named “The Year of the Frustration.”

The past months have brought leadership challenges unlike any faced in recent memory. As COVID-19 snaked across the globe, it left workplaces empty as people scrambled to turn dining rooms into viable home offices. And frustrations ran amok.

Going remote made many workers feel isolated and disengaged. Suddenly, they were forced into Brady Bunch-style Zoom meetings. Everyone’s managerial and working styles seemed to be amplified.

Yet those tensions were only part of the stressors that made leading remote and virtual teams tough. Plenty of telecommuting employees had to work alongside demanding kids, spouses, and pets. Families were forced into 24/7 living and working arrangements unlike anything they’d experienced before. No one could tell where work stopped and where home life began. And tensions bubbled up, eventually affecting leaders.

Now, it’s several months later. We’ve all adjusted somewhat, but our core frustrations haven’t disappeared. People have just gotten better at accepting them, including people who think they’re managing successfully but are secretly hoping that this, too, shall pass. Unfortunately, that’s a pipe dream. The only way to overcome frustrations is to face them head-on.

Leadership in Times of Crisis

So how can you hone the art of leadership during adversity and crisis? First, understand that you’ll be in charge of at least partially remote work teams for the rest of your career.

Working from home has always been an attractive alternative to offices. Now, it has become a mainstay. However, all this newfound positivity around remote work can be difficult for leaders trying to reopen their doors. Instead of going back to “work as usual,” they’re faced with employees who expect their supervisors to show empathy and optimism and allow them to work from anywhere.

Yes, leadership during the coronavirus has its frustrations, but it also has its upshots for anyone willing to see these uncharted waters as a chance to develop the qualities that make a good leader even better.

Develop One of the Top Leadership Skills for 2020

Over the past months, our company has focused on identifying the top frustrations people face during COVID-19. Through an online poll, we’ve amassed more than 20,0000 data points and have discovered that most frustrations stem from miscommunication. This means that leaders who make it their missions to improve their communication abilities will be ahead of the pack going into 2021 and beyond.

Our findings show that 88% of people are experiencing at least one frustrating relationship right now. Typically, the relationship is with a romantic partner (65%), a child (49%), or someone at the workplace (25%). However, company leaders are more likely to be frustrated by relationships with colleagues than with someone from their personal lives.

If you’re in that boat, the best way to reduce the probability of having frustrating relationships is to shift your words. If you’re struggling to be an exceptional leader, you have the power to negate your frustrations by changing the way you talk, even if the person who frustrates you does nothing.

Sound magical? It’s not. It just follows the wisdom of the immortal words of two 1980s rap philosophers, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock: “It takes two to make a thing go right.”

How to Implement a Talk SHIFT and Reduce Your Leadership Frustrations

Making a Talk SHIFT doesn’t happen overnight, but you can make changes right now. First, to improve your ability to lead remote teams and avoid becoming frustrated, know when to offer employees autonomy and when to offer help. Not every worker needs you to hold his hand, but sometimes team members require asynchronous communications in the form of texts, phone calls, or quick Zoom meetings.

Next, prep for all communications by writing down questions. Then, make sure you lead with those questions. Starting meetings with questions brings everyone into the fold quickly and allows you to avoid commandeering the conversation. Finally, actively listen to what your employees tell you. Engage yourself in the process of learning from others, and they’ll be more apt to echo your engagement.

Frustrations are part of 2020, and many people feel like their relationships are strained. That’s a fact. However, people who want to grow will use this year as a chance to explore and practice exceptional leadership. Will you join the team?


About Krister Ungerböck

Prior to retiring from corporate life at age 42, Krister Ungerböck was the CEO of one of the largest family-owned software companies in the world – a company that grew over 3,000%, achieved 99.3% employee engagement and won 5 consecutive Top Workplace AwardsThe Language of Leadership was inspired by Krister’s experience learning to lead teams in two foreign languages, building businesses on five continents, and observing the language of leaders while doing business in over 40 countries.

To Learn more about Krister Ungerböck contact [email protected]

Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency. www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]