When the going gets tough, your role as leader becomes even more important to the future survival, recovery and success of the business. As we’ve seen during the recent coronavirus pandemic, the 2008 economic crash and many previous downturns, having a strong leader at the helm serves to give your people and strategy some real purpose – allowing you to make the right decisions, weather the storm and guide the business along the correct course.
So, what does good leadership in a crisis look like? And what steps can you take to become the role model, strategic thinker and leader that your people deserve?
Leadership that keeps everyone on board
To begin with, it helps to understand what kind of leader you want to be. Are you aiming to be strong, dynamic and forthright? Or do you want to be empathetic, open and inspirational? There are pros and cons to both, but in a crisis, there’s a need for a good mix of both.
There’s no one single ‘right’ way to lead. Every boss is different, every company is unique and every team requires a different approach to management. However, there are some hard-and-fast foundational guidelines that will help you to provide real leadership in tough times.
To become a successful leader in a crisis:
- Make sure you’re in control of the business – overcoming your current challenges means being in control, whether your business hurdles are crashing sales figures, poor cashflow or the pressure of a strong competitor. So, to begin with, it’s important to have the right information at hand, to have a strong, experienced management team behind you and to work with advisers who can show you the future path of the business.
- Show real empathy towards your team – the days of the ‘angry boss’, who stands and shouts at their team to get results, are thankfully over. Having a more emotionally intelligent and empathetic connection with your people is more effective and certainly creates a more engaged team. If you can build this positive connection with your people, and allow yourself to walk in their shoes for a moment, you’ll reduce the classic ‘us and them’ ideology and will create a more connected and harmonious team – a team that’s ready to pull their weight and get the company through tough challenges.
- Keep everyone on board with your plans – in uncertain times, your strategy, tactics and plans may well change on a frequent basis. To combat any potential confusion or disengagement, have regular company-wide meetings, keep everyone in the loop and be transparent about where the business is going. This helps you to keep the team engaged with your mission, on board with your strategy and more productive when there are challenges and threats in the path of your key goals.
- Reward people in the right ways – if money is tight for employees, then rewarding them well for their efforts can be a great incentive. When targets are met, or employees go out of their way to meet a goal, praise them, be public about their achievements and reward them well. This doesn’t need to be a financial incentive, of course – additional time off, inclusion in a great benefit scheme, or running social events for the team are all optional ways to create a good team feeling without a financial bonus.
- Talk more openly to your customers – stepping up communication with customers during a crisis is a good way to reinforce your leadership to an external audience. Keeping silent can create a vacuum for a dissatisfied customer to think the worst. When customers understand the reason why they’re not getting their usual service or product they are more likely to understand and stay loyal – both to your brand and to you as the face of the company. So, stay in touch, post videos and make your customers feel included in the company’s journey through this storm.
Become the best possible boss you can be – a leader who can help their business survive and grow!