There is no easy route through a crisis but a leader’s response to it is critical in maintaining trust and providing reassurance to your workforce and beyond. As a leader you cannot control the situation but you can control your response to it. Below are some key tips on good leadership in exceptional circumstances.
Communication to anyone involved in your business needs to be regular, clear and considered. This will be much more effective at showing you are on top of a situation than an over- confident approach that falls down as the crisis develops. If there is a sense that you are withholding information then your credibility may be brought into question which is likely to cause further panic.
Fostering an open and safe environment will allow your teams to voice their concerns to you without fears of repercussions. This means you can stay on top of what is actually going on in the business, allowing you to make more informed decisions.
Decision making under pressure
Most leaders I know only like to act once they feel they know all of the facts. When you are experiencing a major disruption to your business this may not always be possible. It is vital that you make quick decisions. This doesn’t mean you need to rush into anything but in an evolving situation you can only act on the information available at the time. You’ll need to trust your gut, remembering that it’s your instincts that got you to where you are now.
Try to see the positives in the decisions you make during a crisis. Some can continue to be beneficial in the long-term e.g. implementation of new technology to get you through certain situations can improve efficiencies when your business is returning to normal.
What to focus on and what can be let go of
During a crisis you need to focus on what keeps your business running and invest your time in making them as secure as possible. For example, this may be:
• Your team
• Cash flow
• Supply chain
Empowering the right members of your team to make day to day decisions will give you breathing room to reflect on the challenges and plan a way forward. Bigger projects aimed at growing your business may not be business critical or appropriate in the circumstances you find yourself in.
They will therefore need to be postponed to allow you time to reconcile your resources and plan for the new normal.
Being an empathetic leader
As a leader you must acknowledge and respect the challenges your team are facing in both their professional and private lives as a result of a crisis. Remember that we are all human and your teams are likely facing the same worries and concerns as you.
Running regular ‘check-ins’ can provide an opportunity for your team to voice their challenges as well as their successes. Listening to your work- force and understanding their concerns will allow you to understand what adaptations need to be made to help your team balance their priorities in truly exceptional times. This will only result in a more committed work- force benefitting everyone in the long run.
Stress and fatigue will limit your ability to make effective decisions so continue to allow yourself time to switch off and focus on your own wellbeing as well as your teams’. This will be vital to ensure you are at the top of your game for the duration.