These are extraordinary times. Really, really tough for us all. The world as we know it is changing. It will not be the same. There will be no going back. If I may, I thought I would like to share some of my experiences on leadership in a time of crisis. How we respond as leaders is crucial not only in the moment of crisis, but also in the brave new world that will surely follow.
The temptation is to tighten your grip, command & control, to stop peripheral activity, and react just to the immediate demands. I believe this thinking to be flawed. Remember, as a leader, you are always on show. People are looking to you not just for direction in the moment, but also for encouragement and a forward focus, particularly in tough times. The leader is also not omnipresent; to put themselves at the hub of all decisions and activity is to hamper agility just when it is needed the most.
I do firmly believe that leaders need to offer a sense of optimism and future to the world. For this to happen, a leader must ensure Clarity, Challenge and Growth. Let me explain. Clarity. A leader will need to properly empower the teams to make decisions in the moment. For this to happen, there needs to be absolute clarity on intent & priority. What is our goal in the crisis and what are the priority of needs? Clarity of intent also creates a confidence. A confidence to act in the moment and confidence on the direction and leadership.
Challenge. As the world around us accelerates its change, the leader will need to create a culture that encourages challenge and creativity. We cannot just carry on as you were. Can we offer our product or service in a new way? Can you change our offering to suit the climate? Embracing challenge is key not only to your immediate survival but it is also a pathway beyond the storm.
And Growth. A leader will be asking more of their people. Shift patterns will need to change. There will be more demands, more overtime, more pressure to perform, and in an increasingly stressful and uncertain environment. Now is precisely the time to “grow” your people. Invest in their development in a time of crisis and the leader will reap the reward. Show you care. Enable them all to be better leaders, collaborators, communicators and people. Demonstrate your trust in them and your belief in the future, and you will gain their commitment.
As a leader, it is your staff, your colleagues and your teams that will not just enable your survival, but also set you up for the new world and new opportunities that follow. There is always a calm after a storm. As bad as it may seem now, the world will keep turning. How we humans collaborate and work will change. Focus now on preparing for the new world order.
A threat is no more than an opportunity in disguise.