“It’s life Jim, but not as we know it”.
That is a phrase Star Trek fans would know all too well. But it’s something we can all now also associate with; given that, COVID-19 pandemic has swept the planet. Depending on your worldview, some would say the reaction to the Coronavirus is an overreaction, others may say the end of the world is near, and whenever your worldview the world and the businesses that we lead has changed forever. If ever there is a need for leadership, that time is now. Here is my top three leadership hacks on how to lead through this crisis.
1) Stay steadfast and calm. I coined the phrase the “Leadership Barometer” and we all have one. This is where that metaphorical storm that we have to face in as leaders means others look to us to see how we’re reacting. The reason to do this is to sense reality – so they can judge and how also to react in these situations. It is our responsibility to project a sense of calmness and surety, and that falls very much in the leadership space. Leaders who serve others can help their teams remain focused and productive even in the face of uncertainty. And as a leader, they will be watching you like a hawk to be true to yourself, to acknowledge their concerns and for you to be honest about yours. Help them assess the threats and emotions so you can guide them logically to effective solutions.
2) Communication. In times of crisis – communicate like you’ve never communicated before. Gossip and rumour will spread like wildfire in your workplace, especially in the absence of any official communication. As soon as you know stuff communicate it promptly and factually and if you don’t know then say so. If you don’t you will have a another virus in your business and it will be the communication virus on top of what you already have to deal with. As the myths and the legends, start to form and misinformation disseminates through your business, things will become tougher to deal with. This is a perfect opportunity to get to know your teams better and to share more about you. Find out about their loves and loathes – their interests and family. The more you know about each other – the greater the affinity. The better the affinity – the more you build a common interest and trust deepens too!
3) Keep the wheels turning. Do whatever it takes to engage your teams and keep them busy at this time. It is important to take advantage of technology like virtual meeting platforms like M365, Zoom, WebEx or anything else that is a collaboration tool that will help keep your people connected. When they’re less connected and isolated, that will stifle creativity and productivity. This time could also be an opportunity to pivot your proposition, innovate and try new ways of thinking and working using new emerging technologies.
In times of crisis – it can pull people together in adversity (if not physically – emotionally). So use this time well to forge deeper, more meaningful relationships with colleagues, friends and families. It’s a perfect opportunity to learn about your leadership style and how you are dealing with situations (or not), as the case may be. One thing you do have to avoid and that’s to carry on as usual – this is not a usual situation. It is now time for us to lead like never before, intentions is not enough. Action is what is required.
Steve Rush is a Leadership Development Coach, Transformation Consultant, Author of Leadership Cake and Host of Leading Leadership Podcast – The Leadership Hacker. Click the link to listen in