To my LinkedIn community,
Last week, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the GLOBE Virtual: Resilience and Transformation Series, where I was joined by Mike Gerbis, CEO, GLOBE Series and The Delphi Group, Margo Crawford, President and CEO, Business Sherpa Group, and Mark Emond, Founder and President, Demand Spring. We all spoke on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and how we can best navigate our businesses through this crisis.
I was struck by the thoughtfulness with which everyone approached the subject and the overarching theme that caring for our employees is the ultimate pillar of great leadership. Despite the unprecedented nature of these times, conversations like this one remind me that I’m clear on how to make the best decisions for my team. Below, I’ve outlined three key takeaways from our session that will hopefully help leaders from all industries navigate their businesses through the current crisis:
1. Maintain Communication
The first step to keeping your business intact during tumultuous times is to maintain strong communication with all your employees. In order to maintain this communication flow, leaders must demonstrate confidence and constantly check-in with their teams to see how they are handling both their work demands and the emotional toll of the crisis.
Here at VCIB, we have implemented several practices which I’ve blogged about before here to keep us connected as a team. With uncertainty and anxieties at an all-time high, it is important for teams to be ‘all in’ on a singular values-based goal or mission and to ensure communication practices are in place to keep the team focused on this goal. It’s my job as a leader to remain calm, collected, and sure in my internal and external communications.
2. Find the Commonalities in Other Crises
The commonalities between this crisis and previous cases cannot be ignored, and it is essential that business owners and leaders learn from past experiences and leverage their knowledge on facing a crisis and coming out the other side. During SARS, 9/11, and the financial crisis of 2008, businesses were also impacted, and companies weathered those storms by retooling their thinking from 90-day plans and focusing first on immediate issues before addressing long-term ones.
However, what feels different about crisis is the lack of choice over our individual actions – we can no longer do the things we are all used to doing, and this is because external forces are (rightfully) telling us so. This variable is different than the last crises and affects our mental health in a multitude of ways.
Knowing this, I wanted to make sure that as a leader, I took a moment to take stock of my previous experiences with past crises and to analyze how I can bring what I learned into current leadership. Asking myself where my own gaps are—and then consulting the smartest and most trusted people I know—has allowed me to identify those gaps and lead with certainty amidst great uncertainty.
Shifting former mindsets has not only helped me, but many other leaders move past setbacks and moments of hardship. Although these are unprecedented times, we must remember to learn from the actions of other leaders and organizations who emerged from past crises stronger, more experienced, and with a renewed sense of purpose.
3. Moving from Survival Plan to Creating Value
While many companies are purely focused on survival at this moment, it remains crucial for businesses to look for ways to continue to adapt and expand. With a striking new reality comes new opportunities for growth, but this growth is largely dependent on leaders pivoting and adjusting to a new market. There’s never been a more important time to serve instead of sell. Currently, we’re seeing successful leaders adopting:
- New market models – Business conditions will alter over the upcoming weeks and months, and leaders must be opportunistic within this new landscape.
- Digital transformations – Digital transformations are at an all-time high, and companies must learn to leverage this change in a way that works for their specific sector.
- Talent – With this crisis to blame, there are countless valuable Canadian workers finding themselves without work. For organizations, this will bring a huge opportunity to access top talent – businesses must use this opportunity to think critically about what type of new roles will benefit the business in the long term. Bringing in top talent who can help you make necessary pivots can help your business grow.
I hope these tips are helpful to all leaders navigating this uncharted time – while everything is messy and unknown, authentic leadership has never been more vital. One thing I tell myself each morning before I begin the day is that I need to be ‘all in’, meaning I need to invest 100 percent in everything that I do. I believe that we all should take an ‘all in’ approach right now so that we can come out of this crisis as stronger leaders, organizations, and employees. I am hopeful.