There are moments that define your leadership. And managing your company through a global pandemic is certainly one of them. On top of dealing with your own personal fear and anxiety for watching the world around you fall apart, you have the responsibility to guide others and make important decisions for your brand which will affect far more than your reputation.
With no manuals to follow, no protocols set in place, and no one in your team truly prepared to cope with circumstances which they could have never anticipated, you will need to exhibit integrity, decisiveness, and compassion so that every single individual in the organization can experience a sense of common purpose.
To do that, you will need to lead with confidence. Not just confidence in your own abilities, but confidence in your team, in your company, and even in your customers.
Here are 5 steps to lead with confidence during a global pandemic:
- Focus on the big picture: I get it, you have important decisions to make right now, and that is what you should focus on. However, if entire segments of your business are shut down, this is a great time to focus on the bigger picture, take a timely look at your continuity plan, and strengthen your bond with both your people and your customers.
Studies show that employees who feel recognized and inspired perform significantly better than their coworkers. Investing your time in connecting to your leadership team during this difficult moment can help you create a strong bond that will last way past this phase. Start by encouraging them to take personal ownership and accountability for making things happen and for reinforcing the mission of the company. On top of boosting their productivity, this will make them feel engaged and inspired to connect the dots and communicate the context of your decision to the rest of your organization.
As for your clients, how can you keep your brand relevant during this time? Maybe you can look beyond sharing information and focus on creative ways you can help your customers get through this crazy time. For example, you can create a powerful campaign that will make your customer feel seen and cared for just like Louis Vitton did for their Chinese customers on Wechat. Or perhaps you can share something honorable that you are doing for your own company, such as committing to continue to pay wages to all hourly employees, or finding ways to build community. It may not boost your sales today, but it may forge a life-long relationship with your customers that will be both profitable and deeply fulfilling.
- Take care of your own energy: It’s the last thing you’ll want to do, but in order to be effective you need to think clearly and be grounded in your body. You can’t possibly afford to make decisions coming from a place of anxiety and fear, and unless you take some time to recalibrate your nervous system, your brain won’t function to its fullest capacity.
I am not suggesting you should take a long bath in the middle of the day (although I am not knocking that idea either). I am asking you to give yourself time to move your body and elevate your heart rate for at least twenty minutes each morning, and to engage in some kind of meditation or breathing exercise of your choice.
Being non-negotiable with body movement and breath-work will help you accomplish 3 main things:
– Preserve your sanity and manage your own experience of anxiety.
– Keep you healthy and strong in a moment when you can’t afford to get sick.
– Activate the prefrontal cortex of your brain which is responsible for problem solving, creative thinking, and feelings of self-confidence.
- Be deliberate with your confidence and positivism: The last thing you’ll want to do during a crisis is be excessively positive despite the obviously alarming circumstances every single person is facing. Yes you want to encourage your team and avoid the build up of fear, but you want to make sure that you acknowledge what your each person is experiencing without trying to bypass it or ignore it.
Leading with confidence when the world around us falls apart means recognizing the uncertainty while at the same time conveying assurance that together the team will find a way to overcome all challenges.
- Make wellness part of your leadership equation: Just as you need to make taking care of your own energy a non-negotiable, you’ll want to do the same for your team. You need them to stay healthy, clear-minded and feel in tune with their creativity. Now more than ever.
If your company doesn’t have a wellness program, there are countless online options available. Just make sure you start with something simple, such as asking your team to practice a specific breathing exercise for five or ten minutes before joining you on a video-conference, or encouraging them to set phone reminders to get up and stretch their bodies every so often.
- Show up as your normal self: During a moment of uncertainty the last thing your people need is to see is your sloppy beard or your dirty hair wrapped in a messy bun (unless that is how you normally show up at work). I am not saying you should wear a suit, but understand that your appearance as a leader has an impact. Try your best to look like your normal self and convey a sense of certainty and stability during a time where everything else feels unpredictable.
Truth be told, no one knows how long this crisis will last and what our lives we’ll be like when that happens. But we do know that a leader will continue to need a great deal of consciousness to project deliberate calm and empathy, take decisive action, and communicate effectively through turbulent times.
Remember, “Anyone can lead when the plan is working. The best can lead when the world falls apart.”—Robin Sharma
Written by Rakel Chafir.