The quarantine of 2020 began as a temporary disruption, but it quickly changed into a “new normal” that won’t suddenly disappear in 2021. Google has declared their temporary work-from-home policies will remain in place until July 2021. Twitter, Square, and Shopify have completely changed their stance to permanently support anyone who decides they’d rather work from home.
As a leader in your organization, you must recognize that 2021 will have new challenges of its own. The next catastrophe, whether a cyber-security issue or another financial crisis, is being built in the present. Here’s seven specific steps from the book, The Prepared Investor, that a CEO can take to be better prepared for both the current effects of COVID-19 and whatever unknown major calamity strikes next.
- Remain calm and thoughtful to avoid emotional mistakes. One of the side-effects of today’s social media is that localized events can get oversized exposure from people sharing with an exponential audience. Drama, fear, horror… they are very real feelings compounded by a pandemic or other crisis. You should focus on being a source of calm thoughtfulness for your team because your organization’s general stress level will likely cause professional friction between workers. Your disciplined, level approach can help others to avoid emotional mistakes that typically occur when a group of people makes irrational decisions. As a leader and role model, you cannot indulge your own desire to lash out no matter how trying the circumstances become. Instead, offer quiet, positive energy that attracts accomplishment rather than division.
- Seek privacy to keep your options open. In search of transparency, too many leaders are over-sharing online in the form of venting or ranting. If your personal social media is run by a third party, you probably just need to occasionally ensure the messaging is on-point. But if you’re the one directly tweeting to your followers, remember that your privacy helps ensure you won’t be passed over for that next opportunity due to a political disagreement. Try to calmly consider how much of your life is on display for others. Your privacy can serve as a form of protection during crisis and can offer a polite boundary of respect during times of tranquility.
- Regularly update your list of influential leaders and follow their movements. If all you’re hearing is some Hollywood actor’s thoughts on looking good and staying fit, then you are missing an opportunity to broaden your mind and make yourself a more valuable teammate. This is the time to network with people in the company as well as other industry leaders so that you come out of quarantine better connected than you went in. By following the right people, you’re going to be aware of our national conversations in a more meaningful way. You will be more magnetic to that next pay raise if you’re easily recognized as someone who knows the right people. Take a moment and make a list of people in your industry who do the same work at the same level as you as well as professionals who fill the role you want tomorrow. Why not chat with them?
- Make your reaction plan right now. Preparation is not the same thing as predicting the future. You don’t need to know exactly what is coming nor when it will arrive. Take, for example, preparations you’ve likely made as a car-owner and driver. You don’t know if or when you’ll have a flat tire. But if you have a spare tire and equipment on hand, then you will be a lot better off in crisis. Of course, having the equipment is useless if you don’t know how to use it, so an important part of your reaction plan should include education and practice. Ask the question, “What are the three most likely flat-tire-events for my industry in 2021?” The answer to this is your first step toward having a worthwhile reaction plan.
- Find a coach. Why do Olympic athletes, arguably the best performers in the world, take guidance from someone else who cannot possibly compete with them? Human beings are wired to follow the instructions given by someone deemed to be an authority figure. Ultimately, if we believe they have official capacity to instruct us, we’re predisposed to do what they tell us. So why not use this deep-seated part of our nature to your advantage? Hire a coach you believe in and then trust them with your advancement in the most valuable areas of your life. During crisis, having their objective point of view can be an incalculable advantage when making decisions for your team and your own future.
- Be ready for illiquidity. Your organization may find itself in a situation where liquidity – cash – just isn’t available like it should be. When 9/11 happened, the stock market was completely closed for almost a week. That meant no buying stocks, but it also meant no ability to turn stocks into cash. A plan for liquidity during serious crisis is the equivalent of carrying an umbrella on a sunny day. If you need it, you’ll be extremely glad you have it.
- Have the courage to stay positive. Just because some kind of crisis might be looming in the future, we need not live our lives in fear. COVID-19 hasn’t finished with us, and at the same time we can see the pattern of current events heading toward an inevitable problem of some sort. Nevertheless, we must remember this: these dark worries, while legitimate, quickly dissipate with the bright knowledge that we’ve been through crisis before. We’ve withstood major calamity and we’ll do it again. Will it be easy? Will it be without tragedy? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean there will be utter loss and total annihilation. You are a leader and a role model. Keep your chin up and eyes bright. Have the courage to stay positive!
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