Outside the Box: How to be an effective leader during a crisis
These are unprecedented times as the global pandemic continues to expand. Businesses are implementing contingency plans to protect their team members and clients, and still do their best to keep their companies running. Business leaders are working hard to continue to do business as usual when business is “not” usual.
As a leader you may still be working with your people in person because you are in an essential industry or you may, like many, be working remotely from your home. As founder and CEO of a facility services company, our team members are on the front line of defense against COVID-19 and working tirelessly to keep facilities disinfected and safe to help prevent the spread of the virus. At the same time all of our offices across the Northwest have been shut down and we have been forced to work and communicate remotely. I am grateful for the technology that allows us to interact virtually and for all of the companies that are supporting each other to keep moving forward.
In turbulent times we need courageous leaders.
Being an entrepreneur for over 25 years, I have been though my share of business ups and downs and leading my company and teams through them. Each one has posed different challenges however one thing is always the same. Uncertainty always creates fear, and fear leads quickly to panic. In one challenging time, we had one of our largest customers go bankrupt. As it was a large source of business it quickly stopped work, and the regular cash flow we enjoyed dried up quickly. It was a scary time to be a business owner. Admittedly, I found myself in a state of panic — it was difficult to look to the future when I was wondering how to make next week’s payroll. This is a dangerous mind-set, especially for those in leadership roles.
Immense challenges will happen from time to time that threaten to paralyze you. When this happens, the leader’s role is to be courageous. Showing strength and courageous leadership in a time of uncertainty will be the best support you can provide to your team members, your family, and your business community.
A courageous leader is a shelter in the storm.
You need to have the courage to make bold decisions, often despite your fears, to be the eye in the storm for your teams and businesses. Being a strong leader doesn’t mean you won’t be afraid, in fact, fear is a normal emotion that comes with growth and change. The difference is a strong leader will step up and into the challenges that come their way and equip their team members to do the same.
Your vital role as a leader
As a business leader, you are in a unique role that can set the tone for your company. Your attitude, emotion expression to others, and how you choose to lead will decide the atmosphere at your company during these pressing times.
Here are three steps you can take right now to lead your company forward:
1. Show you care. As a leader one of the most important things you can do is to show care and empathy during difficult times. Your team members may be scared for their health today and worried about their jobs. They may have friends or family members that have been furloughed or laid off, and be concerned their job is next. Showing kindness and understanding will give your team members a feeling of relief and help take their mind off fears that may inhibiting their work performance.
2. Communicate more. In times of uncertainty it is critical to communicate more often. Let your team know where the business stands and communicate expectations. When you keep your team members in the loop of happenings in the business it will show them how valued they are. Consider a daily huddle with your leadership team to keep everyone informed and up-to-date. Create a way for team members throughout your company to connect remotely to address ideas and concerns.
3. Lead from the front. There are times in business where it is appropriate to lead from the side or behind. When facing economic crisis, it is time to step up and lead from the front. Lead with courage. Be transparent and open. Be willing to address the tough questions, and work with your team to adapt and shift to meet the changing needs. When you show up with confidence and courage, this type of strong leadership can move a good team to a great one.
In your business or your life right now, where do you need to roll up your sleeves and dive into the muck? You have an opportunity somewhere to be courageous. Leadership like this will be contagious. Not only will you see significant progress in your organization when you show courage, others will be inspired to do the same.