We are faced in this moment with a crisis that stretches around the world. It is affecting every aspect of our personal and professional lives.
You, as a leader, are being tested with every fiber of your being. The work challenges you were dealing with a few weeks ago have been eclipsed or compounded by COVID-19 and its effects on your business.
How do you lead through this?
The real test of leadership – a leader’s behaviors and actions during a crisis – are what help a company to move through successfully. At this time, you are no doubt being asked to make critical decisions that affect the livelihoods of many.
How can you encourage confidence and stability to bring your people along as we move through this critical period?
1. Educate yourself and others.
Make sure you are aware of federal and state requirements vis-à-vis the current situation so that you are abiding by that which is requested. Additionally, seek trusted sources to learn more about how you can protect your employees, clients, and key stakeholders. Check in with these sources on a regular basis and ask your executive team to do the same. Make sure you are communicating well and often. Dealing with a crisis means that others need to hear from you often and with reassurance.
2. Check your attitude.
The way you see and approach the crisis is critical. It is difficult to use the word pandemic as I write, but we are currently experiencing one. Focus on the things you can control as you lead forward and check your language when talking with others to make sure you are not inciting panic, fear, or stress. Your attitude bears great weight and influences many. In the not-too-distant future, we will look back to see how we made it through. Lead with this in mind.
3. Exercise self-care.
Stress and anxiety can certainly soar during these times. Yet, frequenting public places to exercise and get self-care services may not be your first choice at this time. Think about replacing these rather than foregoing them. For example, if you feel uneasy about going to the gym, find some recorded videos for workouts at home. Avoiding spas or other self-care centers? Create your own spa experience at home with music, hot tub soak, and other ideas.
4. Be decisive.
As you and your team make critical decisions, move forward with conviction to take action. Don’t wait to be the last company on the block to make a move you know you should be making. Part of keeping the employee and client base calm and developing trust is sending a message of strength through taking precautions when you know you should.
5. Feed your executive team.
Don’t forget that your executive team needs increased connections with you during this time. Think about incorporating a daily huddle for updates, a weekly briefing with discussion around next steps forward, and frankly, even stopping by their office during the day to check and see how they are doing. Your team is carrying great weight with you, and they deserve the reminder that they are appreciated as they carry this responsibility. Where you cannot meet in person, collaborate virtually.
6. Stay connected with your life team.
These are the few close people in your life who care about you and who will be supportive and present for you. As a leader, it is hard to ask for this kind of support. It can be difficult to find people with whom you can share not only feelings of celebration, but also feelings of doubt and uncertainty. This is a time to call on your life team even more often to fill your own cup as you continue to care for the well-being of so many others.
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.