The COVID-19 crisis has upended the entire globe in a way that none of us have every experienced. And while many business leaders are rightfully worried about everything from cash flow to employee health, the most important thing they can do in these times is to become fearless leaders. As the world seemingly shut down in a matter of hours in early March, uncertainty reigned supreme—and still does. That’s why leaders have an opportunity (and a responsibility) to fill the vacuum and help their employees and business survive and even thrive in these uncertain times. People are desperate for answers and looking for structure. While you can’t provide answers to everything, you can provide some structure that will help your employees understand expectations—and give them some peace of mind.
Predictability, Consistency and Accountability
In times of crisis and uncertainty, people need predictability, consistency and accountability. Stress is natural part of life. However, when faced with an event or thought that overwhelms our ability to cope, it can result in a negative response that can have both mental and physical traits. Great leadership, though, can be a type of secondary coping mechanism for your employees. While no one can say for sure when we will come out of the other side of this crisis, leaders can instill a sense of hope and purpose in their employees by simply providing support and structure.
Employees are the lifeblood of every business, and right now, the most important thing leaders can do is to help manage the mental state of their employees. It will help them thrive, and ensure they remain as productive as possible during this time. Work can be a great distraction—especially while employees are working from home and simultaneously dealing with family issues. But in order to stay focused and feel calm, employees need direction. Leaders should focus on the following actions during this time:
Since many employees are working from home, companies have had to scramble to set up work from home solutions and policies. Communicating these polices in a timely and clear manner will clear up any confusion and give employees clarity about what’s expected of them.
With rapidly changing information, this crisis has made timely decision making imperative. Taking immediate and decisive actions regarding your work from home and other policies will help employees—and your business—stay on track. In the absence of information, fear sets in. Don’t let your information be absent.
Don’t keep your employees guessing. Be consistent in your messaging, your behavior, your attitude and your policies. Employees need reassurance that things will be OK—or at least know that leadership is on the case. While the world seems to change by the minute, being the consistent part of your employees’ day will go a long way for them and for your business.
Display Emotional Intelligence
Knowing and understanding what your employees need is the key to helping them overcome a stressful situation. Not everyone is born with emotional intelligence (and many leaders seem to lack it), but it can be as easy as holding a daily meeting where you check in on your employees to see how they’re feeling about life, not just work. This will show them that you care, and they will work harder for you as a result.
The Recipe for Fearless Leadership
There are four keys points to establishing your leadership presence—especially in times of crisis:
- Being Fully Present: In both normal times and crisis, leaders can get easily distracted. Take each issue as it comes and be fully aware of what’s at play.
- Communicating Effectively: Never communicate just to communicate. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Listen strategically and ask the right questions.
- Navigate the Culture: Your culture is the glue that holds your business together. Make sure it doesn’t get lost during the crisis. Lean on it now more than ever.
- Be Self-Aware: Your employees are counting on you and watching you. Be aware of your presence and be aware of how your words and actions will be perceived.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” as the saying goes. But becoming a fearless leader doesn’t require desperate measures at all—just some focus and determination. Good leadership can help your employees and business survive whatever comes next. Go forth and lead—your employees and your business are counting on you.
Is your leadership team equipped to handle the next crisis? Contact us today to schedule a consultation to find out.