Leadership through challenging times

May 11, 2020

As all leaders can attest to, no leadership role is smooth sailing. There will inevitably be the occasional storm coming over the horizon, with different challenges you need to respond to.

Sometimes these challenges will be unprecedented, such as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic while others may not be of this scale. As every situation is different, there is often no one ‘best’ way to respond.

What has become clear is that in times of crisis, strong leadership is vital. Given the economic and societal uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, robust leadership of teams and companies during this period is especially crucial.

While there is no magic formula, here are a few ways you can hone your leadership skills and be the strong, capable leader your team needs during times of uncertainty.

 

Be flexible and adapt

If we have learned anything from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that life as we know it can change at any moment. Businesses have temporarily shut up shop or moved online, while others have permanently closed their doors. Teams are communicating virtually rather than face-to-face, people are unable to travel and many schools have moved to remote learning. Your daily routine has changed, perhaps substantially so.

Stephen Hawking once said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change”. A strong leader is intelligent and resilient, adapting their plans as needed. First and foremost, educate yourself. This includes information on the situation at large, your business’s position and the implications the situation may have on your team and or business. Seek out advice where needed to make informed decisions.

Be flexible and adaptive with your decision making, appreciate your existing plans and strategy may need to change or, you might need a completely new plan. Consider the changing needs of the market and your clients as you adapt existing plans or develop new frameworks.

 

Tune out the noise

It’s hard not to be distracted by the endless stream of news and opinions, especially during a time of crisis.

However, it’s important to focus your attention on what is important to you and your business. How can you support your team and create a resilient business? Working on a plan for your business will help you feel more in control of the future and focused on what you can do during this time. Set clear expectations for your team and objectives to assist them to navigate the uncertainty with a degree of clarity.

 

Empower your team

Equally, this is an unsettling period for your team who may be dealing with added stress. Perhaps working from home is not ideal for them as they have children who are remote learning, or they are worried about an unwell or vulnerable loved one.

Communication is the key to maintaining team cohesion and morale. Through times of change and uncertainty, communication is even more important to ensure an understanding of what is happening at both an organisational and individual level and to manage expectations. Whether it’s through regular check-ins to see how people are doing or collaborating on ideas for the future, you can empower your team to feel positive about the business, despite the challenges ahead.

 

Manage yourself

Don’t forget to look after yourself as well. Think of the adage of putting on your own oxygen mask first in order to help others and take care of yourself first.

Not only can our mental health be impacted by uncertainty, so too can our physical health. With the coronavirus pandemic resulting in self-isolated living for many, your incidental exercise is likely to have drastically reduced. You might not be working out as much either, and you could be well acquainted with the fridge and pantry. Ensuring you are still keeping fit and eating healthy (at least most of the time) is important to keeping you feeling on top of your game.

A strong leader faces challenges head-on and knows when to reach out for help as well. Don’t be too proud to seek help, whether that’s for your mental or physical health or general guidance should you need it.

Turbulent times can make good leaders great. As you rise to the challenge, provide a calm and composed direction into the future.