Leadership during Pandemic
Just when organizations were getting back to work after the first wave was suppressed, the second wave of Covid-19 hit many countries one after the other, sweeping away the plans made for the future. Once again there were restrictions and lockdowns which have hit both leadership and employee morale. The hide and seek played by the pandemic poses extraordinary challenges for today’s business leaders. Many plans fail with missed opportunities. But businesses and leadership cannot move forward without newer plans. It would be a failure to think that going without a plan is the best way to handle the situation.
Leadership during Pandemic
While certain situations will call for action without plans the others may require precise planning for business success. In both the cases maintaining calm, effective communication, and preparedness to flexibility hold the key to survival and success. Here is a list of some leadership traits that can be effective during the pandemic:
Transparent and Effective Communication
During times of crisis and uncertainty, keeping communication lines open across the organization makes things easier for both the management and employees. Since a crisis is often accompanied by negative news and rumors, it is better to keep the employees informed about what is going on and what is not. Avoid addressing the concerns in a tricky manner. Instead, be transparent especially while delivering difficult news. If you don’t have answers, say so. Share the progress, no matter how small it is. Also, listen to your employees about what they communicate and what they don’t.
Response to Failures
The pandemic has been showing consistent inconsistencies across the regions of the world. Right at the time when you think that the crisis has got over, and make arrangements to get back to old normal, things strike back in some other part of the world and derail your plans. Since a business network usually comprises employees, customers, and the supply chain, the uncertainty prevailing with pandemics may hinder any of them derailing your business plans. In such cases, respond to the failures. Address the situation in the best possible manner because if a crisis is left unresolved, it will not get resolved on its own, neither will it be forgotten – In all likely cases, it will get blown up fully.
Preparing and Organizing Mindsets to Respond to Crisis
Management must be prepared to shift some of its responsibility to a team of employees just in case they need to handle any disaster management. Identify employees who can think clearly in crisis, emit realistic confidence to handle the crisis, and are solution providers. Provide increased authority to the empowered employees who are prepared to handle the crisis. Encourage them to take business decisions with reduced approvals. Set up clear accountability such that they can make faster decisions without paralyzing the organization during a crisis.
Focus on Long Term
A corporate vision should be able to guide the organization to respond, recover, and thrive in times of crisis. It is quite likely that during a crisis the leadership may lag. It may be a deliberate calm adopted by leaders because they may not be able to think clearly. It may also be due to the fear of losing credibility among the employees and other stakeholders. In all the decisions the leaders should stay focused on the long-term impact of the decisions on the business. The long-term view should also be able to inspire the employees across teams.
A crisis is a time when leaders should rise to their roles and make a positive change in the lives of people. It is a time when people are concerned about their conditions, the challenges they face, the threats they presume, and doubts if they would be able to survive the crisis. Their minds would be full of concerns about financial insecurity, health concerns, and concerns about their dependents. Continuous working from home and the inability to travel and meet their loved ones have left psychological impacts on the minds of people.
Avoid addressing those concerns through your legal department. Instead, address these concerns directly with empathy because it will help ease the situation and build stronger employee-employer relationships.
Transparency and communication are the most important aspects that a leader can hold on to during a crisis. Since your employees and stakeholders are invested in your corporate vision and purpose, it is their right to learn about where the organization is going and how their leader is proposing to handle the crisis. Make sure you convey transparency in each situation. Be clear about what you know and what you don’t. Clarify how you will learn the new aspects to bring change for managing the crisis effectively. Communicate to ensure that the employees are not left in the dark. They should be aware of the advantages as well as the limitations faced by the management.
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