How to Lead During a Crisis

May 2020
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In times of crisis, we must choose how we want to lead. Trying times can bring out the best and worst in people. “As the world struggles to cope right now, leaders have a choice: We can panic and pace, or we can channel the very best versions of ourselves, while supporting those who need us most,” according to an article in Entrepreneur.

Sometimes work can feel trivial, but you must stay true to your mission and remember why you do what you do. Is there something you create that helps other organizations be more productive? “

As a leader, it’s time to revisit your mission: Why do you do what you do? What makes it essential right now? Remind your teams, repeatedly, why their work matters,” says Entrepreneur

Show people that you care — people are at the heart of everything we do. Your teams need support, reassurance and flexibility as they navigate a new normal and working from home. Many are balancing work and childcare, helping take care of an at-risk family member or struggling with mental health issues. Remain empathetic to their needs.

Be human and be transparent. Also stay in contact more than ever, communicating early and often so that everyone has the tools, resources and information they need. And make time for check-ins and informal questions. 

In times of distress and upheaval, employees look to their leaders for cues on how to respond. If you don’t have enough details to provide a firm answer, gather as much as you information as you can, assess and adjust. Be honest about the message you’re delivering and admit that you don’t know all the facts yet. “Your tone and attitude can have a lasting ripple effect across the organization,” Entrepreneur says.

Be optimistic and encourage creativity and contributions among your staff. We are all navigating this uncertain time together, so it’s important to find the positive aspects and look for opportunities and room for growth and innovation that can come out of this crisis. No one has the answers and we’re all in the same situation, so choose to lead with courage and care. 

Here are six ways to be the type of leader that your organization needs right now.

1. Reconnect with your purpose.

2. Put people first — always.

3. Always provide transparent updates.

4. Model practical optimism.

5. Gather, decide, reflect and adjust.  

6. Encourage new contributions.

 photo credit: yugi sakai

Return to Current Issue Leadership During a Time of Social Distancing | May 2020
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