Jeremy Kinstlinger: How to lead a team through challenges and setbacks

As we continue to navigate the lingering effects of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as facing new challenges globally, it is clear that business leaders play a significant role in looking out for their team, being understanding of unique personal circumstances, and creating an open and supportive environment. 

As the Co-Founder and Director of trading brokerage firm Global Prime, I have over 10 years experience leading my team through the highs, lows, pitfalls, and setbacks that are often encountered in the early years of growing a business from the ground up. 

Like many businesses, the last two years for us have been a particularly steep learning curve, facing several external and internal challenges. However, we’ve learnt to take these issues in our stride and come out the other side stronger and more resilient than ever. 

Here are our hard-won insights for business entrepreneurs and business leaders seeking to guide a team through a crisis or setback: 

Set the tone

As a business leader or manager, the tone, morale, and culture of the company starts with you. You set the benchmark for how you want your employees the respond to certain situations. Your team will look to your actions as a model for their own.

At times like this, it’s important to be optimistic and forward thinking, as this will inspire your team for the long-term. Steer clear of cynical or pessimistic comments, and try to frame the current challenges as valuable opportunities for growth and learning. 

Lead with empathy

Living through challenging times causes worry, uncertainty and competing priorities. As a leader, empathy is key during a crisis. Check in with your team regularly, and work with them to find solutions of how to best manage work and life priorities. 

Also, speak openly to your team about the importance of building stamina for the long haul, and maintaining and strengthening resilience. Invite team members to set appropriate boundaries and prioritise time for their mental and physical wellbeing. 

Open communication

During a challenging time, you never want to leave your team in the dark, wondering what is going on. Establish accessible lines of communication by sharing updates on the situation in real-time. Transparency is one of our core business values, we are 100% transparent will all our clients by sharing trading receipts to verify that we do not trade against them, and we believe in being 100% open with our team to demonstrate that we are all in this together. 

Listening is equally as important as communicating. Encourage honest feedback, and use team and one-on-one meetings as forums to prompt your team to raise any concerns and ask questions. Make time to listen and understand. Active listening is a powerful tool in harnessing feedback in a positive way, and will make your team feel heard and valued. Asses the feedback, and explore your team’s challenges and what is within your capacity to address.  

See setbacks as opportunities to pivot

A crisis is often only a crisis if we frame it that way in our mind. As any savvy entrepreneur knows, a setback is often a great opportunity to reassess your business strategy and make the necessary adjustments. A key to developing resilience for long-term success is seeing challenges and setbacks as opportunities to pivot. Taking away valuable lessons from the situation, you can revaluate your game plan and push forward in a strong new direction. 

Stay focused on the long term

One of the most important strategies for moving ahead after a setback is to stay focused on the long-term vision for the future of your company. Bring other team members on board with your vision by providing guidance on what priorities should be. Communicate how individual roles can assist in bringing this vision to life and how they come together to form a larger purpose – team, firm, community. 

For new team members, talk to them about any previous experiences related to past turbulent cycles, and what helped carry you and the wider company through those challenges, and how they could apply those same tactics and strategy to the current environment. 

The truth is none of us know for certain what the future will hold. However, we can choose how we respond to any challenges or setbacks that come our way. The world of business is often fraught with wins and losses, successes, and uncertainty. It will test your resilience and perseverance as a leader. By dealing with the challenges collaboratively, it will ultimately strengthen the dynamic between you and your core team members who will ride out the storm with you. 

Jeremy Kinstlinger is the Director and Co-Founder of Australian owned and operated online broker Global Prime (AFSL no.385620).