According to Adam Witty, leadership is not something you do to people…but something you do with people. Here are a few ways to insure you are leading—and not just managing in a time of crisis.
1. Over Communicate. With remote work, this is more important now than ever. Use video communication like Zoom or Google Hangout whenever possible. Be as clear and direct as you possibly can. I am making it a point to send at least 3 company-wide video messages each week. One on Sunday night, on mid-week on Wednesday, and one on Friday wrapping up the week.
2. Be Transparent. Face the facts head on and don’t try and sugarcoat it. Most businesses will be negatively impacted by COVID-19. Some will need to reduce workforce hours, some will have to temporarily layoff employees. Share with your team, in calm and rational terms, what impacts you expect the virus to have on your business and what the business is doing to try and mitigate those negative impacts.
3. Maintain or Enhance your Meeting and Communication Rhythms. We hold a weekly leadership team meeting called a Business Plan Review. Each department does the same. Every manager has a 1:1 with each direct report bi-weekly. We use a software tool called BPR360 to facilitate those meetings. Going back to point #1, in times of great uncertainty, communicate more not less. In the absence of information, people tell themselves stories, and I can promise they are BAD stories.
4. Have a Plan. Hopefully, you already have a strategic plan for your business that you are executing upon week in and week out. That plan will need to be adjusted as COVID-19 might make some pieces of your plan obsolete. Meet weekly (if not more often) to keep updating your plan with the new realities that exist. Then, make sure you are communicating the plan to your team. When employees know the leaders have a plan, it creates calm and confidence.
5. Project Calm. If the leader is nervous, anxious, fearful, worried, or mad, followers will do the same. If your employees see you worried, they will begin to think it is all over. Have your plan, work your plan, and get a good night’s sleep so you can come back in the morning and keep working it. I’m not suggesting you fake it. Let’s be real, the situation stinks. That said, we can’t control the situation we find ourselves in. However, we can control how we react to the situation. How we react will dictate our results.
Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks. Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured inThe Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.