This is a time when visible, effective leadership is critical. This is the “Mt. Everest” of teachable moments. Why? Because what you do now as a leader, or manager, models what you can expect from others. It shows people the stuff you’re made of.
We are just seven weeks downstream from the first case reported in the U.S. In all likelihood, pandemic measures will run for months. Best estimates have us about a year away from a vaccine. What do we do? We look to leaders for answers.
If you are one, you can make a difference. This is a time when what you do well will be long remembered. If you’re looking for answers, here are 10 things you can do now:
Be positive and real, listen and acknowledge. We won’t know the pandemic has peaked until after we see it. We can be positive about our ability to come through it. Hundreds of scientists are applying new tools round-the-clock to identify effective treatments.
Be supportive and understanding; it helps people cope. No one knows how long it will take for the world to resume its previous dimensions. Being rigorous about protecting ourselves, and one another, will help.
Be hopeful. A glimmer of hope brightens the way, and there is every reason to believe that citizens of the most prosperous nation on the planet can work our way through this.
Where to get updates. The truth is “no one knows.” We want predictions, but let’s instead rely on experts in the field who offer them. Emails with malware and false information are circulating widely. Use trusted sources.
This too shall pass. Eventually. This worldometer website gives readers a picture of what’s happening. Good news in China is the rapid decline in new cases. Unemployment will rebound. Markets and businesses and the economy will rebound. Based on the financial measures already enacted and in negotiation, the lessons of the 2007-08 credit crisis have been taken to heart.
Do what you can. Help people cope. Your efforts will be remembered and appreciated. Any time your plate feels too full, ask for help. Leadership is not a monologue. Ask others to share your responsibilities. There’s plenty to go around. Asking for help demonstrates trust and builds team cohesion.
Communicate more frequently, and more personally. Reach out to people and check in. How are they doing? What are their concerns? Got a funny YouTube clip you want to share? Go for it. People need a laugh. Go above and beyond.
Acknowledgeshared purpose. Remind people that the purpose of the business IS still true. Whether it’s finance or manufacturing, trucking or packaging, your shared higher purpose aligns and binds people together. COVID-19 is the real deal, and we need to work together to deal with it.
Spread positivity. A smidgen of hope brightens the day and lightens the load. Would you rather be surrounded by a bunch of depressives, or a bunch of “can do” folks? We have reasons to be hopeful and positive.
In stressful times like these, excellent leadership is a staple that people need. People look for examples and reflect what they see.
Drew Suss is a senior partner at Truebridge Partners LLC. He has been helping leaders and teams effectively improve their work environments and deal with real-world challenges for more than two decades.