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Leadership in Times of Crisis: How to Lead Through Uncertainty

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for leaders around the world. With businesses shutting down and economies in freefall, many leaders need help to figure out how to navigate this new landscape. In times of crisis, it is more important than ever for leaders to provide direction and stability for their organizations. But what does that mean in practice? How can leaders effectively lead through uncertainty?

Times of Crisis

Define what leadership means to you and your team

Leadership is, above all else, a way of creating a common vision among your team. No singular definition works best for everyone, but it generally involves instilling enthusiasm in collaboration towards achieving success. To us, it's about creating an environment where team members feel included and valued in the process, one that fosters creativity and shapes how decisions are made. Our leadership philosophy puts communication and trust at its core values:

  • Listening to each other's ideas

  • Lending support

  • Developing solutions to issues together

  • Working as a unit towards a mutual goal

In our experience, this approach has proven conducive to more effective results than individual effort alone.

Establish clear communication channels with your team

Having clear communication channels with team members is vital for any team's success. Every team member must understand how and when to communicate to follow through on their tasks and projects efficiently. For example, establishing a go-to platform for daily check-ins, group discussions, and clarifying project instructions can encourage better communication habits among your team. Furthermore, ensuring that everyone within the team understands what task each person is assigned to and how it contributes to the overall goal of the project helps keep everyone focused on the common objectives of the team. Having these clear communication channels in place will ensure the successful completion of projects while building strong relationships among your team members.

Be transparent about the current situation and what you know

With the uncertainty of circumstances, it is essential, to be honest and transparent about the current situation. With constantly changing news, oftentimes it can be challenging to know what is accurate and what isn't. That's why it is important for everyone to only share information that they know is true, nothing speculation or false leads. Doing this will help others better understand the current reality, a much better outcome than just guessing and hoping for the best. Making sure to identify what you know for certain mitigates any miscommunication that could arise if left in the dark about a certain situation.

Encourage open dialogue and feedback from your team

Providing a forum for open dialogue and feedback within the team is essential for optimizing performance. A well-run organization needs to have channels in place for people to express their opinions, suggestions and ideas so that everyone's contributions are heard and valued. By facilitating an atmosphere of communication, you can head off potential problems and gather innovative solutions that lead to better cooperation between team members. As such, creating a space where people feel safe to express themselves openly is key to any successful business endeavor.

Help your team members feel supported during this time

Working remotely can be tough for some of your team members as it's not the same as being in an office setting and working together. Fortunately, there are many simple ways to ensure everyone on the team feels supported. Make sure to keep lines of communication open with frequent check-ins and updates; this will ensure members are in the loop on their work and how it is going. Additionally, create an avenue for non-work related communication; create virtual water cooler days or just reach out over email. Lastly, provide individualized training to acclimate each member to their current role, establish a clear position for each person and encourage asking questions freely, so they feel safe while adjusting. Taking these steps will make a difference in helping your team members stay productive and motivated during this difficult time.

Keep your team focused on the task at hand

It is understandable that there will be distractions within the workplace, especially with an ever-increasing digital environment and in a team setting. However, remaining focused on the task at hand is important as it can help increase productivity and reach objectives. Effective goal setting helps create achievable deadlines throughout the project timeline and encourages focus from individual team members. There also needs to be clarity of message from leaders, as any conflicts or misunderstandings may shift attention away from what should be done. Opportunities for open dialogue among members can also be beneficial in allowing individuals to understand each other's workloads, avoiding frustrations building up and ensuring collective interest remains on track with the goals set. Communication is key in keeping everyone motivated and results-oriented, ensuring success for the team and organization.

These are unprecedented times that we are living and working in. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change how we live, work, and interact with others. As a leader, defining what leadership means to you and your team during this time is essential. Establish clear communication channels with your team, so everyone is on the same page. Be transparent about the current situation and what you know. Encourage open dialogue and feedback from your team so that they feel supported during this time. Keep your team focused on the task at hand so that they can be successful despite these challenges.


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