Leading in Crisis

Biological Hazard sign

I think we need to address the 900 lb. gorilla, even if it only weighs 0.01 femtograms (that’s 10 attograms), Covid-19.

True Leaders Think of Others

We are feeling uncertainty, whether you believe the crisis is as bad or worse than we are being told or you think we are over-reacting, there is still uncertainty.  Undoubtedly you feel it and your team does as well. Right now, your people are concerned with how they are going to put food on their plates if they can’t go to work and get paid.  This is the most fundamental need we have, what Abraham Maslow calls physiological need.  It’s why the shelves in the store are barren.

Even those who have sufficient means to financially weather the crisis are feeling insecure.  How will the economy survive?  Will they have a job, will they be able to get a job?  Our sense of security, the second level of Maslow’s Hierarchy, is threatened.  So what should we be doing?

First, acknowledge your own feelings and concerns.  Stoic leaders are a myth.  You don’t need to whine, cry, or snivel but you do need to acknowledge how you feel, to yourself and to your team.  Don’t give false reassurances, but realistic ones.  We will get through this, we always have.  Finally, plan to succeed.

How to Plan for Survival

In my life, I have always found that nothing helps in times of uncertainty like having a plan.  If you aren’t sure what you can do, this is the time to rally your team and develop a plan.  Remember, your job, as a leader, is to ensure that your team survives and thrives.  Here are some considerations and some questions you can ask:

  • What is the nature of your customers, business or consumers?
  • What is the nature of your revenue, transactional, subscription, retainer, a combination, or something else?
  • How will your customer base be affected?
  • Will your customers still need some or all of your services?
  • Who will need your services?
  • How can you deliver your services without increasing the risk of exposure to your team or your customers?
  • What can I do to change or modify my business so that I can continue to operate?
  • Is there technology like Zoom, G-Suite, Office 365, we can use to continue to operate?

In addition, create a plan on how to support each other.  If your company closes and you aren’t working, set up a calling tree with regular check-ins.  Figure out what you can do to help each other.  How do you help each other, bring each other supplies (drop them at the door and maintain social distancing)? Be there for each other.

Listen to your team, be open to their suggestions, most importantly, don’t be negative.  There are probably some good ideas out there, be adaptive.  Not only will you feel better with a plan, your team will feel better knowing they have a direction and path to survival.  Make sure you meet weekly and talk about the challenges with your adaptations and find solutions.  Keep moving forward.  Remember, frequently the only difference between those who make it through a crisis and those that don’t is that the ones that make it keep moving, they never give up.

If you need help, please contact me.  I’m happy to do a brain storming, planning session on the house.


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