“A Leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” – John C Maxwell.
A true leader is identified in times of crisis, by the way they lead, empower and emerge as an indestructible power.
We are in the middle of a pandemic. Nobody predicted the crumpling of the economy world-wide. So many roadblocks when it comes in terms of business – everything that was running like a well-oiled machine has lost its synchronization. There are problems in logistics, thanks to lockdown, manpower issues, operational challenges all led to change in roles and responsibilities of the business owners and leaders. While these are business aspects of it, socially people look up to their leaders and there are lots of expectations from all the employees.
This transition from managing normal times to time of crisis is not easy. Every leader, in their own way, in their own level – managing a corporation to managing a small team should act upon how they can turn this bad situation around.
Bosses become leaders when they inspire the people below them. These may be few key aspects that leaders can follow to manage the pandemic situation.
Acknowledge Fear & Be Honest:
This is one of the important aspects of being a leader. Uncertainty creates fear. Everyone’s future is uncertain now, including those of leaders. Be honest with your subordinates and let them know it is okay. There is no problem that cannot be solved. Instill it in the mind of people and let them know it’s ok to fail. Be encouraging and supportive, at the same time be honest. Be transparent about the challenges the company faces, be it cost-cutting or change of plans to meet the ends. Overstating or understating the current problem or situation won’t help and might have a boomerang effect.
Showing care and empathizing with your team member’s feelings is a must during these difficult times. Your employees may be scared of their and their family’s health. They might be worried about salary cuts or even lay off. Someone they know might have got health issues and that might have jeopardized their life and job. They might be laid off, or worse might have experienced loss of a dear one.
Balfour Manuael, Managing director Blue Dart, not only managed to pay salaries of employees on time, but went out of the way and made sure regular raises are given to his people. This is one classic example of showing empathy and understanding. And this has been very useful and employee attendance is 97-98% even in this pandemic.
Understanding your team members and showing kindness will help them take their minds of unnecessary worries and help them feel relieved. Thus, their work performance won’t be affected, which in turn actually helps you to accomplish your business goals.
Communication is the key. Especially now when everything is virtual and work is remote, communicate more often. Keep the teams informed about their roles and the expectations on them. Similarly keep everyone informed about the leadership decisions. Tell people that they are valued and how they are making an impact for the company. Reassurance will help to improve employee engagement. Conduct virtual meetings and gather inputs, suggestions and feedback from teams on an everyday basis.
Set the goals & Keep focus:
As a leader be clear about what you want to do. With that set short term goals for your employees and reward them accordingly. Goal planning has to be done consistently. Give people ownership and help them keep focused. As a leader it is important to see where the chaos is and help them resolve. More than ever, now with changing health conditions & situations, people may need additional help and support to stay focused.
Stay in touch:
Show your team you heard them, and you are there. Let people know they got your attention and they can reach out to you, by text or email or call or whatever means. Let them know you are there for them, even if it is not work-related problems.
Sumeer Ladia, Manager in Teamlease Services limited made sure that he was in touch and was accessible all the time to his team members. Not only that he also helped his ex-team members, who lost their jobs to find new work.
Lead in front:
A good leader should be confident and courageous. Act fast, be proactive and tackle emergency situations. As a leader you should be self-motivated and composed to face all the odds that your company faces. You should be able to overcome your own stress and fear to be able to motivate your team. Take your decisions firmly and stand by them.
Be willing to address all the tough and uncomfortable questions.
Define the priorities and be open to challenges. If the situations demand to change the plan of action, don’t shy away from taking a different route.
Self-awareness means you should be aware of your strengths and shortcomings. You should be the better judge, observe the situation, decide without bias and act upon it. A self-aware leader doesn’t get upset over criticism but looks at it as a learning opportunity. Learn from anyone and everyone. Learn from your and other mistakes. One of the first steps to be authentic is to be self-aware and everyone appreciates authenticity. Self-awareness is a quality a true leader should possess always, crisis or not.
Leaders are like the base in the house of cards. One shake and everything will come to the ground. Good news or bad, leaders should be level headed to handle the situation. In adverse situations everyone looks upon the leaders for the next move, and it is important for the leaders to be stable for that.
Instincts or intuition is primal to all human beings. And for leaders it should be like one more sense. You should be confident enough to trust your instinct and that comes only if you trust yourself. While data is very much important in making decisions, intuition or gut feel will also help you make better decisions.
You should stay positive to instill positivity among your peers. Staying positive – this is easier said than done. When the world is falling apart it may not seem like you could stay positive at all. But staying positive here is all about self-confidence and a positive feeling that you could face any challenge. Otherwise you will feel insecure, self-doubt comes into picture creating chaos. You may not be able to take the decisions properly.
While these are a few things that will help you be a better leader during a crisis, there are a few things which you need to prevent in order to be a better leader.
What are the leadership mistakes that you can make during a crisis?
– Not hearing others opinions & being rigid about your decisions
– Instilling fear among employees for motivation or employee engagement
– Not learning from others experience and not admitting your mistakes
– Not setting right boundaries, that people overstep their position and create chaos
– Treating employees indifferently
– Not taking ownership or authority
– Not looking for the welfare of the employees.
This pandemic is of course testing times for all the leaders around the world. What makes a leader a real one is learning from the crisis and being an inspiration for everyone around you.