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Kat Cole - Building Trust Through Change - October 2021



Building Trust Through Change

by Kat Cole



You can build trust and commitment while driving change in times of stress and uncertainty. We are seeing a convergence of labor challenges in many markets, the “Great Reshuffling”, continued supply chain disruption, and hyper-growth in many industries and companies.

The emotional, mental, and economic trauma from these dynamics, a continued pandemic, and heart-wrenching global events are an additional layer to manage. People are leaving and joining brands and businesses at unprecedented rates, and despite the clear challenges, there is so much possibility and opportunity to create positive outcomes if you can lean into being a modern leader.

It is not only possible, it’s happening, and the leaders who are demonstrating care and clarity through these times are attracting and retaining top talent. They are also building brands, teams, and businesses, and making the most of the opportunities hidden in the fog of all this change. This week alone, I’ve talked to leaders of all sizes of business who are dealing with these things and more, simultaneously:

  1. The war for talent and meeting related and evolving talent needs and resources

  2. Navigating impact increasing with the spread of COVID variants (this means more demand for some companies and less for others)

  3. Juggling options and implications of strict protocols for on-site events versus moving to full virtual

  4. Managing mergers and acquisitions and all the process and people changes that result

  5. Thriving and growing so fast that the culture is fracturing and the wheels are barely staying on

  6. Onboarding and developing talent in a hybrid or remote-first work environment

  7. Struggling to stay open in some areas (some closing their doors)

  8. Feeling trauma from military actions, geopolitical forces, and natural disasters

  9. Navigating employee and customer needs of parents are at the forefront of another uncertain school season, child care crisis

No matter how important you think you are, there are times when “carrying on” does more harm than good. There are also ways to still show up as a leader, but modify your approach and manage expectations, so the outcome is net-positive. Use these questions to determine whether you should stay in the game, show up but with modifications, or take a moment away:

  1. Am I physically ok? If the answer is yes, proceed to the next question. If the answer is no. Stop here, and take care of yourself first - everything else that you are able to pause, pause.

  2. Am I emotionally ok? If yes, proceed to the next question. If not now, but you know you will be and have the tools to process now, stay in the game, but modify your engagement as needed (calls not zooms, shorten meetings, call vs unperson, delegate, etc.). If no, and you can’t see your way out - take time away, get help (sounding board, therapist, time to process, etc.)

  3. Is my engagement/showing up despite what I’m doing a net positive? When you add up all the benefits to you, your team, your business, etc., and subtract any downsides including how your engagement would affect the team given your headspace…is it a net positive? If so, great! If not, can you modify (call not zoom, delegate, etc.)? If not, take a few hours, a day, days, etc. off (and if you are a leader you MUST grant this and encourage this to your team).

If you don’t do these things, your team could misinterpret your demeanor and distraction and think it has something to do with them and generally create concern. That hurts trust. In the absence of alternative information, people come to their own conclusions about what is going on and why. To build trust, if you must fully stay in the game, delegate what you can, ask for help and support, and modify the format and cognitive load as much as you can to protect yourself and the energy of your team.

These conditions and my own experiences leading teams led me to share reflections, lessons, and frameworks to help any leader better navigate the challenges and opportunities in front of us. I wrote this post on Leading with a Heavy Heart and created the related course to help leaders better navigate everyday challenges and major events that impact our teams and stakeholders and weigh on our hearts and minds as leaders.

Whether it’s another difficult global event, or just a heavy time for you or your team members individually, there’s always another reason to tune in to ourselves and to our teams, ask and answer thoughtful questions, and take actions on what we learn are patterns in need of our attention.

View original article post at Kat Cole - Building Trust Through Change

Kat Cole is an advisor to high growth brands, franchises, and investment funds and is an active angel investor in over 50 early stage companies. She is a sought after speaker on building modern, global, omnichannel brands, driving innovation, and leading change in large organizations. Kat is former president and COO of Focus Brands, former president of Cinnabon, and current board director for SLICE, Milk Bar, and HumanCo SPAC (HMCO). Kat was named to Fortune's 40 Under 40, was featured on CBS' Undercover Boss, and has been profiled in major business and cultural publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and CNBC. 

You can read more from Kat through her newsletter "Checking In" https://katcole.substack.com/ and follow her highlights on Twitter @katcoleatl. 

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