Lessons on leading through uncertainty with Nadja West

While it’s tempting to view the pandemic as a one-off event that will act as a turning point in our history, it is instead serving to accelerate industry trends that were already forming before COVID-19.

Business operations continue to be coloured by uncertainty and as we look at what the “new normal” might be after COVID-19, it’s increasingly clear that we are already living it.

The challenges of today demand leadership that rises to the occasion. Lieutenant General Nadja West is a testament to just that.

Nadja West is the 44th Army Surgeon General and the former Commanding General of US Army Medical Command.

A trailblazer in her field, she’s the first African American woman 3-star General in U.S. Army history.

Over the course of her career, she’s demonstrated extraordinary executive leadership and crisis management — including leading over 130,000 Army healthcare professionals in the DOD response to the Ebola crisis.

Take a look at Nadja’s top tips to prepare yourself and your team for success in uncertain times.

Stay connected to your purpose

With a military career spanning several decades, it was a purpose-led perspective that kept Nadja going from strength to strength.

It’s purpose that gives you clarity even when the path isn’t clear. It’s knowing the why behind your work and where you want to get to that will help you to stay on course.

“Understand how you fit into the big picture early on,” she said. West exemplified this sense of purpose for her team by focusing on two things: who and what you need to become for your organisation. Once you know this, it’s only then you can be an effective leader or team player. Priorities and expectations become clear, and this will keep your team on track despite any uncertainties.

Respect your people

We all need to give respect to gain it. And to gain the respect of your team, it’s crucial to understand them at a deeper level. A large part of Nadja’s success in leadership comes from her making it a priority to get to know her team personally.

Follow Nadja’s approach and by working closely with every individual on your team, and really getting to know them — learn what makes them tick and feel motivated.

Try to learn more about them, to know what matters to them and what motivates them. It’s only then that you can make an impact on the individual level and lead them in a way that is most effective.

Start with respect, and you’ll have a team that’s encouraged and equipped to face the unknown.

Lead with empathy

Don’t neglect the human dimensions of leadership. We often dissect theoretical and operational definitions of what it means to be a leader — but we need to engage the heart as well.

Nadja believes the single most important trait a leader can have is empathy. “When your people know you care about them, they will do their absolute best for you,” she shares.

Treat your team with dignity, loyalty and integrity. This might mean you need to take actions that may not benefit you personally, but are for the greater good of your team.

When empathy is a value that’s lived instead of mere lip service, it becomes the engine for greater teamwork and success.

With this in mind, we have the chance to turn uncertainty into a resilience-building experience; to face the challenges of today fortified by the knowledge that we are in this together as one team.

For more lessons in extraordinary leadership and teamwork, look no further than our upcoming global summit, Made Extraordinary. This is your launchpad to level up. Reserve your FREE seat today.

About SafetyCulture Summit 2021: Made Extraordinary

Made Extraordinary brings together leaders, trailblazers and experts for two days of inspiration, industry insights, keynote sessions, and professional development.

Learn how everyday teams and organizations can achieve extraordinary outcomes through great teamwork.

Join Made Extraordinary physically at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, stream live from anywhere in the world, and catch up on demand in the weeks following the event.

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