Leadership in Crisis

Providing leadership in crisis is far from business as usual, and perhaps if you’ve never managed a crisis (like most of us managing a business during a prolonged pandemic with a co-occurring racial discrimination crisis) you have new skills to learn, and a new leadership style to adopt at least during the active crisis phase.

The first step is an exercise in self-awareness.

Here’s what most leaders are experiencing (you can privately check your own box)

  • Heavy Stress
  • Employees Needing Compassion
  • Employees Feeling Unsafe
  • Employees Feeling Uncertainty
  • Employees Reacting To The Current Racial Discrimination Crisis
  • Intermittent Productivity
  • Difficulty Defining Success In The Present Moment

These realities require specific additional steps in self-care in order to give hope, reassurance, and doses of certainty to the organization.

The first step is to acknowledge any weaknesses within yourself and your leadership team for crisis management. Determine what you can do in your daily routine to manage heavy stress. Ask your leadership team to do the same. Check-up on them regularly. Get professional help to coach you through this process.

You and your leadership team need to talk to your employees in regular intervals to convey compassion, reassure a sense of hope, and provide some certainty about the direction of the company.

People would rather hear a message “we’re dealing with massive revenue losses, but working to solve them,” versus not knowing anything. Or, “We’re facing the possibility of lay-offs, but working on creative solutions to prevent that.” Welcome input from these conversations both directly and anonymously. If you don’t have a solid diversity appreciation action plan, design one with professional and organization-wide input.

People are feeling less productive and they are. It’s a temporary fact. This is in response to pandemic burnout and chronic emotional fatigue and negativity.

Give people latitude with their work schedule.

Encourage objective focused effort vs. punching in the time-clock.

Find out where people need resources. There are countless free resources available now for professional and personal development. Promote continuous learning that is personalized. Encourage this development to be part of the definition of success.

If you cannot drives sales successes now, pivot the focus to deepening personalized relationships with customers. If you can’t meet their traditional needs, meet their needs any way you can.

These actions of leadership development create the foundation for:

  • Ongoing work to design a new digital business model with many (or all) remote workers.
  • Identifying and providing ongoing resources for organization wide resilience and well-being development.