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Tips from the Trenches: How to Lead Through Trying Times


Illustration showing concept of leadership
Image: lukbar -
As trying as the pandemic has been for most everybody, it’s also provided the opportunity to shine.
In recognition of this, our sister event brand, Enterprise Connect, launched an award program to recognize enterprise IT professionals who have gone above and beyond in keeping the communications and collaboration flowing at their organizations. We recently announced the 2021 IT Hero Award winners, and subsequently hosted a roundtable with them at a virtual event we put on last week.
During that roundtable, we talked about a number of topics, including how they managed to maintain a positive attitude throughout the prolonged period of working from home, consistently putting their best foot forward, and getting the most from team members and colleagues. Here are their tips, which any enterprise leader might find relatable or applicable for their own organizational circumstances.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due — Brady Naugle, director of unified communications and collaboration at biotech company Amgen, started off her response with a nod to the “fantastic” team and partners she works with, noting how everybody works together to help each other out. “But for me personally,” she added, “the one thing I really have tried to do is just say, ‘Thank you,’ and let people genuinely know how much I appreciate them and how grateful I am for the work they do. And that really goes a long, long way for me.”
Put It, Whatever That Might Be, in Perspective — When the heat is on, metaphorically, and the smoke is coming out the windows and people are jumping off the top floor, Frank Santistevan, manager of platform technology at education publishing and services company Pearson Education, said he tells his team: “Frame it up” — meaning, consider the comparative severity of the situation and level-set. “I’m like, ‘Guys, we’re taking phone calls here, we’re not building Kevlar vests for our troops.’ … We’re going to get through this — maybe not in the next 15 minutes, but I’ll get you through this.’”
Knock Down All Barriers — “For me, it’s about letting people know that management isn’t just here to manage, but to clear the roadblocks and bottlenecks … so they have the ability to keep doing their jobs,” said Joe Castillo, regional director of operations at Center for Neuro Skills, a brain injury rehabilitation services provider. From a management perspective, this means not saying, “ ‘Hey, you’ve got to do X, Y, and Z,’ but saying, ‘Hey, what do you need so that you can do X, Y, and Z? Let me provide that for you,’” he added.
Be Authentic — As a technologist at timberland company Weyerhaeuser, Ian Hamilton, who is the team lead for unified communications, said he “geeks out” a lot. In his role, he also needs to connect with a lot of employees. “And I hope that by them seeing me getting all excited about the technology and what we can do with it in the future that that makes them excited, too,” he said.
Don’t Get Caught in the Rifts — Referencing interdepartmental tensions that can arise, Darin Ward, senior voice engineer, marketing solutions firm RR Donnelly, reminded everybody just how much impact a good or bad attitude can have. “I’m a cost center, and that means everybody in my company is my customer. So, I’m here to serve them. That’s the perspective I always try to maintain, he said. “If you have a positive attitude, people will gravitate toward you and want to help you out.”