How do you help leaders continue to lead when they are tired, scared, overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do next with the coronavirus?
Leaders are human too. They experience fear and become exhausted like the rest of us and need the help of their trusted advisors and partners to help them continue to lead even when they feel tired and don’t want to lead.
As a partner to your leader, you play a critical role in helping your leaders keep from putting their heads in the sand and hoping the issue will go away. It won’t.
In a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, it is your job to remind your leaders that everyone in the organization needs them to continue to do what they do best, and that’s what separates the leaders from the followers.
Don’t Let Your Leaders Freeze. Help Them Understand What is Happening
We are fighting thousands of years of programming that have been hardwired into our DNA. The part of our brain that chooses our fight or flight tendencies – sometimes referred to as the “lizard brain” – kicks in when we face uncertainty. A metaphor for the amygdala, our “lizard brain” is the part of the limbic system which is responsible for processing our emotions. It’s this part of the brain that gets triggered to protect us from danger. So, it is useful for our survival.
And right now, it is starting to push the panic button in our brain. We think we are rational in the choices we make. But in reality, we are influenced by things we are not fully aware of. We have blind spots and just being aware doesn’t mean we aren’t influenced by our “lizard brain.”
Help your leaders work through the “fight or flight” response. Don’t let them waste time in a state of fear or denial with this uncertain crisis.
Highlight for your leaders that crisis is an ideal time to look at problems differently, and encourage them to recognize this as an opportunity to transform the way your organization thinks and does business.
Keep The Media In Perspective
Remind your leaders that It doesn’t matter whether the source of news is right, left, center, or social media. It is all driven to get attention in order to get traffic and ratings which sell ads. Just reporting facts won’t deliver that. Hype and drama do.
Recognize Systemic Failures
Our politicians and health care agencies saw this train wreck coming yet did little about it; the “deer in the headlight” syndrome in full effect. So, they are now scrambling to catch up and clean up the mess the best they can. And in time, they will. They are humans with all the good and bad that goes with it. Your leaders should reassure the organization that this is not a time to point fingers but to do what we can to help. We have survived much worse than this, we will survive this one too.
Give Reminders To Help Your Leader Take Impactful Steps
Encourage your leaders to remind everyone that as business professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners who strengthen the economic engine of the country, we have a burden that gets little meaningful attention in the media.
Get them moving. Push your leaders to take initial steps early in the crisis and motivate them to cut through the clutter of conflicting data and different points of view. Help them identify areas that need the most attention and support them as they prioritize resources.
Holding hands and singing Kumbaya won’t stop the coronavirus. Neither will worry and wishing it away.
Focus your leaders on calming the organization’s biggest fear; uncertainty about the future. Although we can’t control the future of this pandemic, we can control the actions we can take to protect ourselves and our businesses.
Even during the darkest hours of WWII, Winston Churchill remained positive. Great Britain needed him to.
You should too. Your family, your employees, and your business needs you to. Your immune system will thank you.
Think about all the things you can stop doing so you can focus on the things that matter most. In both personal and business life, clarity comes from focusing on the most important things.
Strengthen Your Relationships
If your business does slow down temporarily, use the time to strengthen your relationships with your existing customers, clients and partners.
And don’t forget your employees who are worried about the future. Your community and circle of influence need reassurances too.
Thank them. Reassure them. Incentivize them if you must.
Cash Flow is Critical
This is a good time to really look under the hood of your business to check for wasted resources. Every business has it and every owner has had this nagging feeling that they should cut it but never got around to it. It is time.
Freeze all unnecessary spending. Collect from customers faster where and when you can. Offer discounts for prepay and faster payments. Increasing cash flow during these times is critical.
What About Recruiting and Hiring?
Let’s address the elephant in the room! Since we provide these services to clients, it would be disingenuous for us to say cut expenses except for your recruiting and hiring. You should look for options that keep your talent pipelines moving forward and might consider more remote work and virtual interviews using video.
In fact, if you have wasteful spending like extensive travel or other costs in your recruiting process that is not giving you ROI, you should cut or at least pause it too. With one caveat to consider.
During every crisis and economic downturn in history, there have been businesses that took market share away from those that became ultra-conservative and hired for the talent they needed to keep and grow the business after the economic recovery. They zigged when everyone else was zagging.
Your point of view depends on your tolerance for risk and appetite for growth. Help your leaders choose to be one of the companies that does well.
Which ties back to where we began. Our lizard brain is scaring us about the looming disaster. Wash your hands. Take appropriate precautions from credible sources, But don’t let the lizard force your head into the sand.
It is time to lead by helping your leaders continue to lead during uncertainty.