Reminders on How to be a Great Leader During Crisis
Crisis management is something every company should be aware of, or have a plan to initiate when needed. The circumstances surrounding the crisis may differ. One thing remains the same for successful crisis management: good leadership.
In times of crisis, employees will naturally look to their leadership team to give them confidence and a feeling of security. Leadership needs to step up to the plate to keep the team motivated, in sync and prepared for whatever may come.
Gallup Inc.’s prior studies of global crises indicate there are 4 universal needs that leaders must meet for their followers: TRUST, COMPASSION, STABILITY and HOPE. To satisfy these needs, leaders must evaluate their crisis management plans, leadership style and opportunities to improve. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we put together some reminders on what leaders can do to keep their team on track and successfully meet the essential needs of their employees.
Your employees may not be living the same day-to-day situation that you are experiencing. Every household is different – especially during this time. Spouses may be losing their jobs, children are out of school and needing more supervision and there are lots of distractions. Some employees may live alone and feel lonely or out of touch. People react to crisis and change very differently. Take time to touch base with your employees directly, or with supervisors and management. Listen to feedback from your team and employees. Show them you truly care about their well-being and not just that the company continues to operate.
For instance, our Primary Funding team meets virtually on a weekly basis. The executive team asks each week how we are doing individually. Not just how we are doing in our jobs, but how we are doing with our families or our work-from-home situation. They are sincere in their desire to be helpful and supportive.
Be Clear About the Company’s Plan
Just like dealing with change, many people have a hard time dealing with ambiguity. For most businesses, there is some aspect of the business that has changed due to the virus. Leaders need to understand how their company needs to pivot with the changes and implement new strategies to support the change. Whether changes are significant or insignificant, having a plan to make changes and communicate to the team is imperative.
Be Calm, but Act with Urgency
Obviously, some industries are having to adapt to change and think on the fly much more than others. Regardless of the industry and the severity of the issues at hand, leaders must be able to exhibit a calmness that is reassuring. Leaders should avoid panic, but clearly demonstrate that calm does not mean avoidance. Provide an appropriate level of urgency for what needs to be executed and communicated. If there is bad news to deliver, do it in a reasonable time and be realistic on what lies in the future.
Additionally, great leaders need to be willing to listen to those around them. Crisis often calls for creativity. You must use the resources at hand to solve problems. This is a great situation to remember that there’s no such thing as a dumb question, or no idea is a bad idea. This uncertain time will be where the entrepreneurial mind will live to its fullest potential. Let your team think outside the box and be creative. Being creative doesn’t mean being reckless or throwing caution to the wind. As a leader, look at problems from many different angles and opinions and continue to make informed decisions.
Be Willing to Take Risks and Make Mistakes
Crisis requires continuous problem solving and decision making. What worked for your company one day may not work by the fifth day. Or fifth week. Leaders should not let unknown information hold them back from taking a calculated risk. Inevitably, mistakes will be made, especially if you and your company are having to make decisions rapidly or shift course quickly. Try to limit the exposure to risk and error as much as possible. And obviously, don’t shift blame to your team if something goes wrong.
The times we are most challenged can often be the times we stand out and shine. Be courageous in the time of crisis. Lean on your trusted advisors and colleagues. Being a great leader will build a better, stronger team. These are the times loyalty is built. Primary Funding’s guidelines for leadership will lead you to fulfill those essential needs of your team: TRUST, COMPASSION, STABILITY and HOPE. And remember, we’re all in this together!