At a time when so much is unknown, it is more vital than ever to strengthen the leadership skills that can help you steer your team through murky waters. Here are three concepts of leadership to consider as you retool for 2021.


This article first appeared in ICMI.

Radar is designed to allow one to see what is unseen just beyond the horizon. Once something is identified on the radar, action is almost always required – move one way or another, make personal adjustments, engage with others to let them know what you have seen.

This foresight in leadership is needed now more than ever when the immediate future seems so murky. It is vital to strengthen the leadership skills you have to manage what you can, given that so much is unknowable.
Here are three concepts that might be worth putting on your radar to ensure you are looking beyond your current view of IT service and support.


In these crazy Covid-times, ensuring we are communicating well as leaders is more important than ever.
As is typically the case during stressful times, the communication should be more personal, if possible. People want to know that the leader has a good grasp of the situation, and that there is a clear plan to deal with important issues. It is also a time to tune in to “What’s In It For Me” - the radio station playing in the head of every employee in the company - Is my job secure? What is the plan for 2021? Do I need to do anything different to be successful? Ensure you are speaking to what you are doing and have planned for your frontline to put minds at ease.


I think we are all a little weary of Zoom and Teams at this point, but this is not the time to make decisions in a vacuum. Instead, this is a time to ensure you are collaborating with the right people both within your organization and across the company.
This is also a great time to engage leadership with your ideas for improving processes and programs. 2020 has been a year of customer service focus. Many companies are dealing with a crush of new programs (new eCommerce opportunities, new channels of communication, 60 people on hold with an average wait time of 45 minutes). All of these have placed a new importance on how your team is managed, and has given IT service and support a much more powerful voice at the table.

Take advantage of this time by building new reports on how you are meeting customer expectations. Tell the “hero” stories, in which your team have gone above and beyond to solve new and unusual issues. Collaborate with Marketing to share customer data – seeking to engage differently both with customers who are happier than ever with new approaches and with those customers that are particularly unhappy with Covid-required changes.


With everything that has been on your radar over the past 9 months, have you asked yourself “How am I doing as a leader?”
I know I have had weeks where the up-close torpedoes have not allowed me to even look at the wider radar, much less considered how I could improve, as a leader and as a manager. The American Psychological Association says stress is higher than it has ever been since the study began in 2007. The study shows that 7 in 10 say that work is a significant source of stress in their lives.

We leaders are also not above fraying at the edges. Ask yourself, “Do I find myself a bit grumpier than in the past?” And “What am I doing to deal with my emotions and stress?” The experts recommend sharing your emotions and feelings with your team – to help them know they are not alone in these stressful times. Your confidence that things are OK – and your honesty about your struggles – will help others know you can empathize with their situations.

More than at any time in the past, our leadership radar systems have been rearranged, as we deal with new customer issues, new company priorities, and many completely new ways of working from home. My hope, after reading this article, is for you to take a moment to think about your radar – and see beyond the stress and issues that are close. Taking the time for self-reflection will allow you to communicate better, collaborate more effectively, and build personal confidence that supports those around you.

For almost 40 years, Bob Furniss' career has focused on helping companies improve their customer experience. Bob recently joined Slalom Consulting as the Practice Director for their Global Salesforce organization. He and his team deliver customer success in the areas of service and support strategies - across all digital channels - with a focus on the world’s top customer engagement platform, Salesforce. As a consultant, he has worked with many of the top brands across the globe.

Bob is proud to have received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from ICMI in 2017 for his work in the contact center industry. He writes for industry publications, is active on Twitter and was named as one of the Top 50 #CCTR Thought Leaders on Twitter in 2015-2019.

On a personal note, Bob is married with two children and two amazing grandsons. He lives in Memphis, TN, loves photography and is an avid Pittsburgh Steeler fan. He and his wife recently launched a nonprofit, in honor of his daughter’s life, that focuses on education and early detection of breast cancer in women 25-40 (

Tag(s): supportworld, best practice, quality management, professional development, project management, relationship, communications skills


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