As part of our initiative, Trustworthy: Leading With Your Heart and Mind, we recommend this article, “Calm Through Crisis: How To Lead From The Front,” by Forbes Magazine contributor, Sairah Ashman. This article gives practical insights for leaders who are determined to see their organization through the other side of the COVID-19 crisis. Forbes is an American business magazine and leading source of business and financial news worldwide.
During times of crisis, we need good leaders. Good leaders will keep “keep us informed, direct efforts and act in ways that feel both human and authentic.” Forbes contributor, Sairah Ashman, gives six priorities and points of inspiration for leaders during crisis:
- Manage a marathon
Leaders must first recognize that the current challenges do not have a quick and easy solution. Ashman recommends that leaders adopt a realistic attitude that they are at the beginning of a long process of “returning to business as usual.” Ashman explains that leaders must overcommunicate throughout the crisis, balancing “informing employees of the situation and [being] honest about it.”
- Be the calm
In times of great uncertainty, people will naturally have many “questions about plans and what the future holds.” While leaders don’t always know the answers, they can assure their employees that they “will do everything in [their] power to protect them.” There is no ‘right’ answer in these complex situations, but leaders should “know the right way to be.”
Leaders need to maintain the calm and composure they wish to see in their staff. They “have a responsibility to respond with calm and with empathy.”
[Check out a video from Harvard Business Review about authentic, calm leadership: Leading Like A Swan by Gill Rider.]
- Relate with honesty
Through transparent communication, leaders can lessen the anxiety that others may feel during uncertainty. Transparency helps reassure employees.
A leader must balance optimism and reality, ensuring “there is both hope and a plan for whatever may come next.” Ashman states that, for leaders, “providing a clear sighted view of what may happen, what you plan to do, what your people can do, and why you have faith” is essential during these times. After facing crises together, “team[s] will emerge stronger and more connected than ever before.”
- Maintain your vision and values
Leaders must “inspire everyone to action around a shared goal.” During extremely difficult times, like the present, leaders must have “courage and fortitude to make the decisions required ahead.” As the leader, believing in your organization’s purpose, vision, and values helps motivate your team to continue to perform during a crisis. Employees often feel pride working for companies that help “make a difference” and consumers will likely reward those companies “with loyalty and goodwill.”
- Embrace innovation
Times of great challenge also create opportunities for “invention and imagination.” Ashman shares that every age and consumer profile has switched to working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ashman urges businesses to utilize this time of extreme disruption as an opportunity to “accelerate out of this crisis” and “to position themselves for the future.”
- Work as a team
There is immense responsibility for leaders during a crisis, but it is important to realize that not everything should weigh on the shoulders of the leader. Leaders must invest “time and effort together as a leadership team.” This investment will contribute to a more effective and successful organization when your leadership team is “aligned and supportive” of one another.
About DeBoer Fellowship
The DeBoer Fellowship develops change leaders across all sectors of Myanmar society. Through a multi-year training class and additional public programs, the DeBoer Fellowship serves Myanmar by helping to grow competent, compassionate, and ethical leaders. For more information about DeBoer Fellowship or to apply for the Fellowship, please visit: www.deboerfellowship.org.