Leading in Challenging Times

“Challenging Times” is an understatement for what most leaders are facing today. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our daily routines and businesses. Leaders will need to step up their game to manage the chaos. Here’s 3 things that Leaders can do to make things better:

  1. Instill calm. Panic doesn’t solve problems and running around with your hair on fire doesn’t help anyone. Accept the challenge and be a voice of reason. Try to calm employee fears as best you can.  Listen, acknowledge and do what you can to keep things in perspective.  If relief will be provided by your company or government actions, let employees know about it and how to access it. Hold dial-in conference calls to provide periodic updates and allow employees to ask questions. Lack of information feeds panic.  Be transparent and available.
  2. Look for innovation solutions. Find ways to keep things going. Create project teams that can work thru teleconference to tackle a work issue or improve a process that can be implemented when they get back. Be flexible. Employees are facing uncontrollable circumstances. As schools and daycare close, they need flexibility to deal with everyday life. If they can work from home, let them.  If not, look for other options.  Ask employees for their ideas and be open to trying new things. Look for ways to leverage the internet and webinars for meetings, training or updates. Reschedule rather than cancel critical events. Maybe you don’t have to cancel prom, sports and graduation and instead reschedule them for July and August.
  3. Have a Plan. Employees are looking to their leaders to figure out where they are headed and what to do next. Leaders may need to reshape their ‘save the world’ goal into a ‘survive and thrive’ goal that helps employees see beyond the “here and now.”   Let employees know you have a plan for short-term and long-term impacts and share it with them. Reassure employees that you are managing today’s challenges in a way that will help accelerate your transition to normalcy once the virus is gone.

In times of crisis people look to their leaders to help them get through it.  Instill calm, be flexible and have a plan. Your employees are depending on you, don’t let them down.

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