If there was ever a time for leadership, it’s now.
In your business, your community, and your home, quality leadership is the key to overcoming the challenges at a time like this. Leadership is always essential, but during a crisis it becomes critical. And, as a leader, your focus needs to adapt in response to the changing circumstances.
There are three primary leadership skills most useful in the time of crisis, uncertainty, and even fear: To be helpful, to define reality, and to be a role model of leadership for those around you. These are simple to do but critical in this time of apprehension and unpredictability.
First, being helpful to others starts with your mindset: you can’t allow yourself to become a victim. The key to leadership is to inspire others to follow you. You can’t be helpful if others don’t choose to follow you – and no one follows a victim. No matter what’s happening, you can’t be a helpless casualty of the external “forces” at work.
Next, your followers must desire your help. Do this by making it easy for them to receive your help. Set a positive tone, smile, connect with them by understanding how they are feeling – their level of angst, frustration, and concern. Just trying to understand their feelings by asking what they are thinking can help reduce the stress of the situation. Someone in their corner, sharing their burden, goes a long way.
Plus, by learning their situation through this conversation, it allows you to know how to truly help. It buys time and confidence in your motives and provides information to strategize an effective solution to their needs. Maybe you have resources they can utilize or have previous experience of how to deal with the situation that can help ease their pain. If nothing else, just keep focused on how you can be helpful, and they will appreciate the support.
Defining reality is the most powerful leadership tool available in a time of crisis. A crisis is experienced in many ways – stress, confusion, uncertainty, hopelessness, and in the extreme – feeling like “the world as you know it” is ending. Everything is hyped and exaggerated in the mind of the person in crisis. This is demonstrated by panic purchasing of great quantities of things not typically ever bought – such as a case of SPAM or 50 rolls of toilet paper.
Defining reality is as straight forward as defining if the glass is half-full or half-empty. It is the same amount of water but by defining reality, it helps others see the amount of water in a positive light and being adequate for current needs. For example: “We have lost some work, but it will return and we will recoup our immediate losses – and we will be a stronger, more efficient team as a result.”
Simply look for the silver lining in the dark cloud and express it with positive certainty. But never offer something untrue as this creates distrust in your leadership. Defining reality simply is your strong (positive) opinion that helps clarify and put things into a clearer perspective.
Be a Role Model
Role modeling leadership makes others want to join you in leadership. In a time of uncertainty, the greater the number of individuals taking on leadership responsibilities the better. This helps the mood of the work environment shift from one of being distressed or agitated to one of being composed and collected.
Take time to guide those who indicate a desire to be helpful. First, be sure that these individuals can control their emotions under pressure, and are willing to take a personal risk in addressing the present problems and concerns. Then, give them a real task that needs to be done. A real-world test is always the best. Simply instruct them on how to do the task, coach them as they proceed, and offer positive feedback on their results. The more leaders you have to help support your efforts in a crisis, the better the result, and the stronger the team you will form.
These three tactics are simple, but valuable tools to overcome the situation at hand. Be helpful, define reality, and be a role model. But if nothing else, simply be there to support your team. Stress is high, there are new work arrangements, and the world seems to be in chaos. Your leadership should set the tone of a calm, steadfast, foundation that your people need. As always, we are here to support your success and wish you and your team continued physical and organizational health.
Your Team at Bartell & Bartell