March 16, 2020 is a day destined for the history books. It is the day lockdown started in the UK whilst the markets crashed across the world. Though etched in our minds with great infamy, it’s days like these that I believe make true leaders. This is true not only for politicians but also for business leaders.
I’ve been fortunate to work with and support many businesses through this crisis and have been able to observe what works (and what doesn’t) when leading through a crisis, and how leaders can turn even a global pandemic into an opportunity.
The pace and innovation of technology in today’s world has trained us to think that speedy decisions are good decisions. However, we can’t overlook the wisdom in taking a step back to analyse the bigger picture and remember what truly matters, especially in times of uncertainty. Taking the time to slow down gives you the potential to see opportunities that can accelerate your business. Don’t make the mistake of being swept up in the current of crisis.
Stay open minded
Tunnel vision is a dangerous threat to leadership in times of crisis. Staying rigid in your thoughts and refusing to change on “the way it’s always been done” is what causes ships to sink. We’ve seen how agility and innovation have kept so many businesses afloat as they learned how to serve their customers in alternative ways. View challenges as an opportunity to make your operations stronger and more in line with the current needs of your customers.
Be flexible, yet disciplined
This harmonious balance that can result in a team that worls with great efficiency. For example, when Covid-19 first hit, everyone was experiencing panic and confusion at different levels. As a leader, it’s important to understand that not everyone is in the same place. Leading with empathy and understanding is a guaranteed step toward gaining the trust of your team, something that is imperative in maintaining calm in times of crisis.
That being said, maintaining structure and discipline is still critical for a business, especially in an economic downturn. True discipline comes down to the small stuff. Communication rhythm, going the extra mile or bringing an additional idea to the table. Remember, discipline starts at the top, making it important that leaders lead by example.
As Covid-19 fatigue settles in, leaders must not forget the power of appreciation – for customers, employees, and suppliers. Making time for gratitude amidst highly charged emotions not only helps your mental and physical state but also fosters a culture of gratitude around you. Your team have sacrificed a lot during this time to keep your business afloat. Remind them just how valuable and appreciated their efforts are.
It seems clear now that our world will experience the effects of COVID-19 for much longer than we hoped and anticipated. My advice for business leaders?. Stay true to yourself as a leader and the values of your company, even when things take an unexpected turn. Resilience goes a long way and can be infectious. True leaders are those who can keep calm and carry on – all while inspiring others to do the same.
"Taking the time to slow down gives you the potential to see opportunities that can accelerate your business."