Updated: Oct 31, 2020
When a crisis hits (and Covid-19 though immense in scale, is only the latest in a long history of crises), yesterday’s playbook falls apart at its seams. Priorities shift overnight, information is unreliable, and the path through the darkness seems fraught if it even exists. It is in such times, that people look to their leaders to provide direction and guidance but most importantly clarity.
Not transparency but clarity. Full transparency is the access to all facts, which in the absence of synthesis, is a sure shot method to create confusion, insecurity and panic. On the other hand, clarity, the understanding of the facts and the implications thereof, calms the confusion, creates opportunity and enables problem-solving.
If you have chosen to lead instead of retreating, and you are wondering how you can create clarity, read on. If you are still on the fence or looking for clarity to be handed to you, remember that yesterday’s playbook no longer applies and YOU can lead today.
Remember your purpose
In the last month, we’ve frequently heard people refer to the Covid-19 pandemic as an unprecedented crisis. Whether you’re a CEO of a multi-national firm or a solopreneur, each day brings new challenges at work and at home and there is no blueprint for decision-making.
What hasn’t changed however, is your purpose. Who are you committed to serving? What problems are you here to solve? The crisis may put your resolve and commitment to the test but let your purpose guide your decisions.
Live by your values
What do you stand for? What does your organization stand for? What can you do TODAY to not just “tell” the world but to “show” them what your values are?
There is no doubt that the bottom line of many companies will take a blow and it is natural to think about ways to conserve cash. For many organizations, the first tendency may be to lay off people.
However, if your espoused values include a commitment to your teams and employees, such a decision can shatter trust in your company and result in a loss of goodwill. It is also worth noting, that a short-term layoff may result in a talent drain that makes you lose your competitive edge when we emerge from the crisis.
Similarly, if you say your company values work-life balance or employee well-being, now is the time to demonstrate it by reducing work hours, providing flexible work options, or getting creative with how you are supporting your employees through their challenges.
Prioritize ruthlessly, then do it again
Prioritizing what must be done to keep business going and serve in accordance with your purpose and values is the first step to reducing discretionary spend and conserving cash. Once you’re through making these choices as a purpose-driven business leader, do it again. This time, with a lens of human leadership.
Due to the suddenness and magnitude of the change, there may be a drop in productivity as people adjust to new ways of working, new workspaces, juggling previously separated parts of their lives (e.g., work & parenting) and handling new responsibilities.
By eliminating everything except the essential tasks and getting super clear on WHAT must be done, by WHEN, and by WHOM, not only will you ease the pressure on your people, you will be able to ensure that the most important work doesn't fall through the cracks.
This applies to individuals too
It isn’t just leaders and managers who are facing challenges of managing the complexity and ambiguity of the Covid-19 crisis. To a greater or lesser extent, we’re all trying to navigate this change.
This crisis hit just in time to completely stump my plans to launch a new offering in early April throwing off my financial projections and business plan, and resulting in anxiety, frustration and overwhelm.
Then, I remembered my purpose is to create inclusive, high-performance workplaces (on-site or virtual) and solve complex people problems to drive business success. My values include serving those who need my help the most (~30% of my time is dedicated to pro-bono work) and always learning.
Guided by these, I prioritized offering web-based trainings to small- and medium- businesses to function effectively in remote teams, jumped at the opportunity to support my colleagues’ summits, and am offering creative solutioning sessions to small businesses.
Today, I am ready to grasp every opportunity to learn and grow that this crisis can throw at me and I invite you to join me!