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Leadership: why you need to foster belonging to lead through this crisis

See the blog highlights in this short video, or read below.

First published by our partners at the Insititute of Data and Marketing (IDM).

In a time of crisis, timeless leadership traits like decisiveness and collaboration are still as important as ever. Flexibility? Needed. Good communications? Yup, that too.  Many of the good old leadership approaches will always be prevalent; global crisis or not.

It is, however, useful to be reminded that traditional approaches alone, may not be enough.

To be a modern leader in a crisis-hit world, you need to tune in to the more nuanced themes of leadership, that are relevant right now, so you can be of best use to those around you.

To discover these nuances, the team at Hack Yourself, the modern leadership company, have been holding leadership support calls with our clients and have been listening hard to what is working and what the gaps are.


If you want to bring your team with you, keep them committed and help them understand the many tough decisions you are having to make during this crisis, then get leading through a lens of ‘belonging’.

People are at home, in many cases detached from the people, places and hobbies to which they once belonged, and human nature will drive the lust to belong once more.

Here’s how you can foster belonging, right now:

  1. Share strategic clarity with your teams, no matter how hard it is to ascertain at the moment. They need to know what’s happening, as it’s being worked through, not just afterwards

  2. Give the work meaning – for everyone involved. Story tell, add the context and clarify the impact the work could have. People will start to belong to the bigger picture you create

  3. Deploy frequent and transparent communications

  4. Choose carefully how you engage. A personal phone call, or turning on your video on a conference call, will bring people closer to you and each other

  5. The many team meetings you hold, even if you are saying very little, or feel like you are repeating yourself, will make people feel included, valued, and will drive belonging. Don’t cancel them. Now is not the time

  6. Your team need comrades, that stand side-by-side with them during these hard times – give your team the space and freedom to build unbreakable bonds that will last way beyond the pandemic

  7. Be intentional – when you ask someone to join a project group, or to support on a task, spend the time articulating the importance of their role to them and the team

And here’s the magic; belonging creates ownership

When team members feel like they belong, they will feel a sense of ownership of what that team is trying to achieve.

In a crisis, ensuring your team own the problems and the opportunities, and tackle them with accountability and proactiveness, can be half the battle won.

If you want your team to own what’s happening around them, you can start by owning the need to create belonging.

We know it’s not easy

Hack Yourself is made up of practicing leaders, like you, at the coal face right now. None of us can say we are doing all of these recommendations perfectly – but we know our best efforts, in the right areas, will give us a fighting chance. We’d recommend not fixating on the bullets above, but to just remember the principle – lead through a lens of fostering belonging.

Over to you

This strange time has levelled the playing field – we are all at home, with various degrees of untidiness in the background, kids screaming and goodness knows what other pressures and challenges around us. We have offered up our basic rights of freedom, confining us to our houses, so we can play our part to improve the situation. From this, however, we’ve lost many of the things to which we once belonged.

I hope you, and all the other leaders around us, can help rebuild some of that belonging so we can be our best selves, and do our best work.



About us

Jack Lowman is founder and author of Hack Yourself, the modern leadership company.

We live in a world that needs a new type of leader. So, Hack Yourself pursues what’s changing in leadership and the workplace to build brave, modern leaders and high-performing teams through new-world training.


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