Right now we’re all thinking about leading through a pandemic, and there’s no precedent we can turn to for that particular situation. But history shows that all crises, whatever form they take, affect leadership and teams in much the same way. Much of it comes down to this: people want to feel that their future is certain, and when they don’t have that confidence, they need reassurance that they’re going to be OK.
Here are the things we know that work:
When fear is present, show confidence. When your team is fearful and anxious, be the leader who shows up with confidence—not confidence that you know what’s going to happen, but confidence that their well-being is your top priority and that you will all stand together and make it through. You can’t predict the future, but you can calm fears in the present.
When worry is present, show empathy. Too often leaders are drawn into trying to fix things that can’t be fixed. As I explain in my best-selling book The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness, in times of stress and worry your team needs a leader who is above all a navigator. Guide your team with empathy and understanding, bringing them together to find solutions and new opportunities in the climate of crisis.
When uncertainty is present, show transparency. Many leaders in times of crisis rely on the adage “fake it till you make it,” but I strongly believe that approach only makes things worse. In uncertain times, you need to be a transparent leader. You have to speak to your team in ways they can understand and relate to. You need to communicate directly and say “Here’s what we know, here’s what we don’t know, and here’s what we’re doing.”
When anxiety is present, show humility. When you don’t have clarity about what lies ahead and everyone around you is anxious, you need to lead with humility. That means admitting that you don’t have all the answers. Don’t come off as arrogant in an attempt to look strong and confident. Uncertainty is uncertainty. Instead of trying to bluster your way through, focus with your team on the things you can do: delivering value and looking after one another in the here and now, while looking ahead to understand as much as possible about the circumstances and needs of the longer term.
In moments of crisis, leaders can either strengthen their team or allow them to struggle. There’s no benefit in faking a certainty that doesn’t exist or, on the other hand, in allowing uncertainty to get the best of us. It’s a time to put heads together, to communicate more directly, and to bring out the best in one another.
Lead from within: The ability to thrive during periods of great uncertainty is a hallmark of exceptional leaders.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
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Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.