The economic and social uncertainties that the coronavirus pandemic has precipitated all over the world have created new and harsh challenges for political, religious, community, and business leaders. No one saw the current pandemic coming, so not many leaders were sufficiently prepared for it. But then, a leader must lead regardless of how unprepared or inexperienced.
In the business world, leaders are struggling to cope with the new realities of social distancing and the increased need for remote working. This is a time when business leaders need to inspire hope among their employees, even as they struggle to keep their businesses afloat. It is a time when leaders need to take quick actions that will save supply chains from collapsing. Consumer trends are changing faster than ever experienced before, and businesses must keep up with the trends or risk running out of business. Indeed, difficult and important decisions must be made and made fast. But how can a leader inspire hope during these difficult times?
For a start, business leaders must work closely with all stakeholders- governments, clients, partners, investors, and employees- in monitoring the virus and prioritizing everyone’s safety. At the same time, they must try to cushion the financial future of their organizations and employees. Strong leadership skills have never been more relevant. Here are 5 strong leadership skills that will help you provide the leadership that your employees so desperately need:
1. Have a compelling and consistent message
Communication in times of crisis is way more demanding than during any other time, particularly because your subordinates must believe in your message first before agreeing to abide by it. You need to inspire hope that the current crisis will come to an end soon, but then the people you are inspiring are convinced otherwise. People are desperate for “the normal” so that they can go back to pursuing their careers and lives, but then their optimism is gone. Their only hope is that their leaders can chart a path forward, but then most of them don’t trust anyone who has the right answers to this pandemic. You will have a better shot at inspiring your staff if your actions and body language are consistent with your words. This is the time to leverage the experiences, values, talents, and qualities that your juniors appreciate about you. Build your message around those qualities and be consistent while at it.
2. Be empathetic
You will need to make tough decisions during this crisis, but you must always come from a place of empathy. This is a time when your listening skills for managers will be put to test like never before; a time when you have to understand the feelings and experiences of your juniors before making any decisions. Such skills will help you detect fear and agony in the questions your juniors ask, so you are able to empathize with everyone and give the right directives. Note that it is natural for some of your juniors to feel like you don’t have answers or good enough solutions to their fears. If you are empathetic, however, you will understand their paranoia and skepticism better and that will enable you to package your solutions in a way that inspires hope in the midst of the paranoia, doubts, and hopelessness.
3. Be tenacious
Strive not to be overwhelmed by the challenges this pandemic has brought. Let everyone see your determination in defeating this disease and its ripple effects. Being tenacious includes thinking long-term and helping everyone around you to see the bigger picture, even when the present reality seems so bleak and unsettling. As much as you need to be reactive when handling problems as they come, you need to be responsive as well. That is how you will convert your employees and people around you to be believers and followers. Of course, the solution lies far into the future but it is only through your today’s tenacity that the future everyone wants will be achieved.
4. Be truthful
There is a lot of misinformation doing rounds on social media and that has led to confusion. Don’t fuel that trend. Be straightforward and honest in your messages, focusing more on how the virus can be defeated.
5. Ask for help when you need it
The people you work with have almost the same dreams and ambitions as you. They also have ideas that could help you navigate these murky waters of the COVID-19 era. That is why it is okay to go to them for ideas on how to move forward.
With a little more courage, emotional intelligence, and integrity, you will easily navigate the current coronavirus crisis. Remember to care for the people around you and to communicate effectively and with clarity. We shall overcome!