Often, the best leadership decisions are shaped by past experiences and research-backed preparation. However, when it came to dealing with COVID-19, leaders of today neither had past experiences nor enough time to prepare for it.
As the world began to adjust to a new normal, business organizations are quickly evolving their leadership practices. The success of your business comes from the strength of your team and it is only through the right leadership practices that businesses can make the best out of their biggest assets, the human resources.
Here are some of the biggest crisis leadership lessons businesses have learned amid the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Help your team navigate uncertainties during a crisis
A crisis like a pandemic brings with itself a wave of uncertainties. Will there be layoffs? What will be the implications of nationwide lockdowns on our operations?
The first crisis leadership lesson to have come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that leaders must initiate hard conversations as soon as they sense an impending crisis.
Acknowledge the gravity of the situation and assure your team you have begun to work around it. Let them know the impact you are expecting to face and the steps you are taking to mitigate it.
Through your words, you have a chance to build credibility as a leader on whom the team can rely. Their trust and support will enable you to make radical changes in response to the crisis in a smooth, controlled manner.
2. Empower your employees with flexibility
As COVID-19 spread globally, the shift to remote work was sudden and abrupt for most businesses. Naturally, the overall productivity took a plunge.
However, there were some leaders who managed to see incremental changes in their remote workforce. How did they manage to do it? Well, by not forgetting that their employees are humans working hard to protect their families amidst a pandemic.
Good leaders understand they need to take care of their people in order to take care of their business. Let your employees settle in the new routine. Now that they are working from home, give them space to cater to their familial commitments. Set up new work processes and adopt efficient task management tools to help your team stay productive. Make them feel valued and taken care of.
Eventually, your employees will go beyond the call of duty to help your business not just survive but also grow in the middle of the crisis.
3. Know when it’s time to reinvent your business model
When you are faced with a crisis like a pandemic, you have to respond with equally huge changes in how you do business.
While most small and medium businesses struggled to survive, there were also many who came out stronger. A global crisis sometimes levels the fields and enables business players to compete with each other regardless of their size or capital. If you don’t innovate, you will soon start losing out your positions to the ones who reinvent themselves with time.
When you take the challenge head-on and turn it into an opportunity, your teams follow your lead. They don’t see themselves as victims of a crisis. Instead, they transform themselves into catalysts for change.
4. Adopt an expansive business continuity planning approach
One of the harshest lessons COVID-19 has taught us is that our business continuity planning needs to be more expansive.
Leaders must dig deeper in history and keep eyes on the future to make more effective contingency plans.
Diversifying the network of core advisors is a crucial step leaders are now taking to make accurate forecasts. Familiarize yourself with as many different perspectives and opinions as you can. The key to better decision making is to become a better listener.
5. Prepare a backup of leaders to delegate authority
As crisis sets in, many leaders struggle to lead teams on daily operations while also making “big business” decisions.
Every team has a few exemplary members who are mature enough to lead others when the need arises. You must take the time to identify them and hone their skills while things are going great. This bank of potential leaders will save the day for you when you are too occupied with other, more urgent tasks.
A global crisis is always an acid test for leadership. Leaders who are calm, determined, and empathetic often triumph over the crisis and lead their organizations into a better future. Being utterly transparent, facilitating flexibility, and tapping into the leadership potential of your subordinates will make your team stronger.
The best leaders are the torch bearers of hope; hope for a better future.
Tapan Patel is a co-founder at Third Rock Techkno, a dynamic IT services company in the US. With a humble beginning 7 years ago, he has gained expertise in bringing together the best teams and shaping them into a loyal, efficient workforce. Tapan is an avid reader and he is passionate about sharing his leadership insights with global communities. His writings have been featured in established blogs like Simple Programmer, Real-leaders.com and more. @Thirdrocktechno