Over the last few days, I have been in constant conversations with various C-Suite leaders, trying to gauge and understand their narrative on how they see the business situation in the country, and to understand their concerns and challenges. The economy has been at a troublesome juncture already, and now we have the global pandemic, Covid-19, at our doorstep in the middle of a serious economic crisis.
Admittedly, the situation seems bleak and dire. I will give the government and the business community this much, times are tough and frustrations are understandable. These are uncharted territories, and no one can be quite sure how to react in these times. However, the reality is, this time is here, and moaning and groaning about the bad situation we are in will fix nothing, and this sort of defeatist attitude just will not cut it for leaders, especially in the already at peril business community, especially as people begin to try working from home as part of social distancing tactics.
So here are the four actions you can take as a business leader, or should expect leaders in business to be taking at a time like this. The A, B, C and D of how to lead during a crisis within a crisi:
Authentically Communicate, Daily
This one is the most important, and it cannot be stressed enough. The rest you can do in whichever order you see fit and makes sense for you, but this one has to be on the top of the priority list.
As a leader, you must send out communication on the daily. At a time like this, what employees and investors want first and foremost is clarity and direction, the two things that they are most at risk of losing. And with all of the tension that has overtaken the everyday, an e-mail, 2-minute video, or voice message to all of your employees will go a long way in calming many of their jitters, and in keeping tabs on how things are being run.
And remember, this is not just for them, it helps both you, and most importantly the organization as a whole. You must remember to overcommunicate during a time like this. That does not mean bore people or be overbearing, your communication can be a few simple sentences – all done and sorted in 90 seconds. But it must be daily, regular, precise and let them know that things are going somewhere.
Your team wants to know that you’re in control and sorted. Check this video out (for online readers only) for what it looks like to be in control: http://bit.ly/ABCD-Leadership. The key is to stick to the facts, there is no time for rants, philosophising, ideologies, theories, or personal glorification. Present what is happening, do not sugarcoat, but do balance one negative with several positives over the next several days and weeks. And if you have a negative to share, mention it first, then follow up what is being done to address it.
The important thing is that you not just let this be something you read in the internet or with you morning coffee and nod along without doing anything. Sp communicate something now and send it out, do not think too much about it just do it. Your team will be thankful.
Yes, this is a time for social distance, but no, that does not mean this is a time for loneliness. In fact, we need people more than ever to help us get through these dark times, just not in present, tangibly physical capacity.
There is a tendency to turn inward and play defensive when something like this happens, but this is actually quite counter-intuitive. What you should be thinking instead is “How might we support our customers and community.” Gather teams of employees to brainstorm, then act. The key is giving, giving, and giving with no expectation of return. Your customers will remember this when all of this clears up – and it will clear up! And most importantly, it is also the responsible thing to do in such times.
Just remember, the best way to combat sadness, depression and sorrow is to help someone else.
Consolidate and Clean Up
Organizations have been running hard for years during the last decade. Sure, there have been a few bumps, but mostly we have as a society been obsessed with growth and getting ahead more than anything.
Which is why now might just be a good time to sit back, try to lean away from the picture, and reflect on where this bumpy road of never ending growth has brought us. Use this slow time to clean up and consolidate those aspects of your organization that you have been putting off fixing.
Focus on the handful of processes that drive the customer and employee experience and improve them. It is time for sorting and cleaning all aspects of the business. A key focus is on how to make things easier, simpler, better, both for customers and employees, but also for the future, which again, is right around the corner.
I have a mantra for life, and it is my most indispensable advice that I give to everyone that comes to me for leadership coaching or life advice. The advice is to always be “Playful, Passionful, and Purposeful”. This advice has been especially helpful during this crisis. My life reminder would be to reiterate that you are the one that sets the tone and momentum for the entire organization.
So stay calm and breathe. Stay positive and smile. Stay focused and reimagine. Stay blessed. Remember, everyday above ground is a good day. See you all on the other side.