Leading in Crisis
By Dave Rosenberg*
We are feeling uncertainty – whether you believe the crisis is as bad or worse than we are being told, or you think we are over-reacting.
There is still uncertainty. Undoubtedly, you feel it and your team does as well. Right now, your people are concerned with how they are going to put food on their plates if they can’t go to work and get paid. This is the most fundamental need we have, what Abraham Maslow calls physiological need. It’s why the shelves in the stores are barren.
Even those who have sufficient means to financially weather the crisis are feeling insecure. How will the economy survive? Will they have a job, will they be able to get a job? Our sense of security, the second level of Maslow’s Hierarchy, is threatened. So, what should we be doing?
First, acknowledge your own feelings and concerns. Stoic leaders are a myth. You don’t need to whine, cry, or snivel but you do need to acknowledge how you feel, to yourself and to your team. Don’t give false reassurances, but realistic ones. We will get through this, we always have. Finally, plan to succeed.
How to Plan for Survival
In my life, I have always found that nothing helps in times of uncertainty like having a plan. If you aren’t sure what you can do, this is the time to rally your team and develop a plan. Remember, your job as a leader is to ensure that your team survives and thrives. Here are some considerations and some questions you can ask:
- What is the nature of your customers, business, or consumers?
- What is the nature of your revenue: transactional, subscription, retainer, a combination, or something else?
- How will your customer base be affected?
- Will your customers still need some or all of your services?
- Who will need your services?
- How can you deliver your services without increasing the risk of exposure to your team or your customers?
- What can you do to change or modify your business so that you can continue to operate?
- Is there technology (like Zoom, G-Suite, Office 365) you can use to continue to operate?
In addition, create a plan on how to support each other. If your company closes and you aren’t working, set up a calling tree with regular check-ins. Figure out what you can do to help each other. How do you help each other or bring each other supplies (drop them at the door and maintain social distancing)? Be there for each other.
Listen to your team, be open to their suggestions, and most importantly, don’t be negative. There are probably some good ideas out there, so be adaptive. Not only will you feel better with a plan, your team will feel better knowing they have a direction and path to survival. Make sure you meet weekly and talk about the challenges with your adaptations and find solutions. Keep moving forward. Remember, frequently the only difference between those who make it through a crisis and those that don’t is that the ones that make it keep moving. They never give up.
As a former Naval Officer and President of several companies, Dave Rosenberg understands the difficulties of managing tasks and personnel. Now he is on a mission to replace TGI Friday with TGI Monday. Dave is the founder and principal at Locked on Leadership, a consulting firm that focuses on practical tactical leadership skills that yield results. He is a Certified Professional Behavioral and Driving Forces Analyst and has worked with over 60 companies in 13 states arming them to achieve sustained and managed growth. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This author has a professional affiliation with the topic.