Effective Leadership Tactics in the COVID-19 CrisisMay 08, 2020
COVID-19 has left everyone a bit shaken. In times like this, people look to those that are calm, confident, positive, proactive, and caring. Portraying control while feeling so out of control can be difficult but it is truly essential in effective leadership.
As a college athlete, I had the privilege of playing team sports for many years. One of the most important things I learned was the absolute necessity for trust and dependence on your teammates. When you are in the 4th quarter, behind, and needing to fight back – the most challenging aspect to competing is not the physical component but rather the mental component. If there is one weak minded person, someone who has mentally given up, it is the coaches and teammate’s responsibility to lift that one person up! We cannot succeed unless we do this together! In the midst of a game, we never really knew what the outcome would be but we always believed we would win regardless of the circumstances. We were willing to fight together for that common goal! That is the job of a coach and the job of a team. One of my old coaches would always say, “Move your feet, if you aren’t moving then you are a statue.” That advice is a constant reminder for me to stay in motion, move forward, and never stop leading people.
The below tactics are effective leadership skills that can be used on and off the field. These principles can be applied during any season of life, but are especially critical at this time:
1. Be knowledgeable.
Understand how this outbreak affects your people, your vendors and ultimately your customers. This is the time for relationship building. We have an opportunity to really earn trust and know those we work with and work for. This is the time to be focused on what we can give someone rather than what we can get from someone. The “give” may be strategic business advice on a specific function. It could also be a much simpler word of encouragement or a quiet ear to listen. In the end, we can’t fix everything, but we must be emotionally intelligent enough to know how to respond to others needs.
2. Be confident.
As a leader, stay abreast on the latest developments and demonstrate a positive confidence that everything will work out. We will bounce back. Life may not be exactly the same, but portray that you are confident that, as a country, and as a business we will find a way to be resilient.
3. Be proactive.
Start with your own people and tell them the truth. Explain to them the various ways you plan to take care of them. If you know you will have to lay folks off, be honest and tell them the truth. Call your vendors and tell them where your business stands and how you are actively moving forward in your strategy and show them that you have a plan. Go to your customers – call them, text them, reach out through social media – see how they are faring. Provide the resources relevant to their situation and ask how you can be of assistance. If you are in sales, now is the time to earn your money. Be resourceful in your approach, go in with data, statistics, and assurance that you are there for them.
4. Show people that you care.
We often become so tied up in the financial transaction of a business relationship that we sometimes lose sight of the fact that our employees, vendors, and customers are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents. Let them know you care for their wellbeing, their physical health, mental health, and emotional health. This is a time when business and personal lives are merging and the future is unknown. In times like this, people quite often just want to talk and you can be that listening ear.
5. Take care of yourself.
Exercise, read books, eat healthy, take time to rest, spend time with your loved ones, and find a way to perform a good deed for someone every day. Be strategic in your planning. The down time may be a time where you can really begin to map out another 6 months, 12 months, or 3 years. Build game plans, share them with your associates, and ask for feedback. Remember, if you do what others won’t do today then you can be what others can’t be tomorrow.
Our current environment has also caused me to reflect on a previous economic crisis during 2008-2009. Individuals and businesses were struggling like never before. The outlook was bleak and projections were slated for a long time recovery. What I witnessed during those dark days in the insurance industry were the business leaders that rose from the crowd and focused on what they could change to get “wins” for their families and businesses. We saw a new level of financial accountability, conservative investing, and a regained risk management strategy for their businesses. We saw many companies fail that were not prepared while those who chose to innovate and retool – emerged in a much better and bigger way!
The situation we are in is serious, life changing, and in some cases deadly. Now is the time we, as leaders, need to rise up and raise those around us. We need to support our teammates, vendors, and customers. We need to build relationships that will carry us through this challenge.