Leadership During the Coronavirus Pandemic

When 2020 kicked off, and you looked at your goals for the year, “be a successful leader during a global pandemic” was probably not on the list. When it comes down to it, even the best bosses might be having trouble leading their employees right now. Normally good communicators, delegators, and mentors may be at a loss on how to do any of those things over a Zoom meeting or via group text. And while your employees may be looking to you now more than ever, you may be struggling to not let them down. Take a deep breath, and read on. We’ve gathered together advice to help you guide your employees during the season of covid19.

Advice from psychologists – The American Psychological Association looked at research and came up with several ways that leaders “can improve their communication skills to maximize trust and minimize stress and anxiety:” Try some of the following:

  • Manage stress – Self-care is key, even during a crisis: “People look to leaders to be calm and deliberate in their decisions and actions. Leaders who react to stressful events in highly emotional ways can add to people’s stress and anxiety. Leaders can start by slowing down, taking stock of their stress and understanding what is causing an emotional reaction. Even when facing the demands of a high-profile crisis, leaders must take breaks to reset and refocus.”
  • Be honest and transparent – You may have bad news to share with your employees. The APA suggests that “… Leaders should deliver disappointing news in a clear, straightforward way and avoid giving a false perception that everything is OK. Effective leaders don’t hide bad news, which rarely stays hidden. Leaders who don’t share all the facts quickly become less credible, and that type of leadership can lead to more panic and overreaction.”
  • Be a role model – The mental health care experts advise, “When people aren’t sure how they should behave, they look to leaders as role models. Leaders must behave consistently with what they are asking others to do. Leaders need to be the first to embrace new policies such as cutting back on travel and practicing social distancing. People will follow the example of leaders they respect.

Advice from business leaders – The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University recently hosted a webinar on managing during a crisis. Professor Timothy Feddersen, offered the following:

  • Set up a crisis team – “To start, leaders must ensure they are aggregating and assimilating the best, most accurate information from across their organization. Do you and your employees know where to find this information?” Are your processes for distributing this clear and concise? If not, VersaTel Solution’s new Process Management services might be what you need. The folks at Kellogg also say, “Crisis teams also need leaders who are willing to make decisive decisions and then coordinate appropriate actions.”
  • Be Empathetic – This is what Professor Feddersen emphasized over everything during his webinar. This is a stressful, and in some cases grief-filled moment in time. He says, “You want to demonstrate to others that you understand the values that they care about. And demonstrate that understanding to them. … Demonstrate that you get where people are coming from.” The APA agrees. Their experts say, “In their communications, leaders should recognize the uncertainty and anxiety people are experiencing. This is especially important when leaders are communicating decisions that might add to people’s stress, such as a business closure or a reduction of work hours. Recognize that people who are anxious need their leaders to give them hope and a sense of control.”

If you need help during this time, please let us guide you. We have many services that can help ease the leadership burden. Reach out to us to see how we can work together.