In a time of crisis, the most agile, forward thinking, and quick-to-act organizations will be the ones that ultimately prevail. But make no mistake, it is the strength of empowered and creative employees that emerge as leaders and pull a company through when times are hard.
We’re seeing innovations from Ford, Tesla, and Rogue Fitness, as they adapt their factories into front-line manufacturing for healthcare products. Agile restaurants are offering curbside pickup/delivery and artists are offering virtual art shows and painting lessons. Adaptations like these are keeping brands in the public eye, and their doors open.
It doesn’t matter if you work for a billion dollar corporation or a corner deli, you can make a difference—now or in the future—by leading during challenging times within your current role, whatever that may be. If you’re wondering how to do it and where to start, here are five suggestions for how to be a positive leader in a time of crisis.
- Don’t panic. Limit your news, social media, and gossip throughout the day. Fear, worry, and negativity spreads faster than any virus and leads to inefficiency and paralysis. As Dale Carnegie once said, “Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” (Metaphorically, of course, as we engage in a great deal of work from home…)
- Know your strengths. This is an opportunity to utilize more of what you can do beyond your current role. An online self assessment tool (like Strength Finder 2.0) will give you immediate insight into your core abilities. You might be surprised by what cross-functional skills you possess. For example, my personal strengths are Strategic, Activator, Futuristic, Positivity and Woo. This allows me to contribute to planning, execute quickly, innovate, rally teams and jump into sales when needed.
- Leverage those strengths. Unleash your inner “mind warrior.” This requires brainstorming creative solutions and collaborating with everyone involved. Many had to adapt very quickly to working remotely and are finding surprising new ways to work out of necessity. Use this creative ingenuity to consider new market opportunities, seek out new partnerships, reevaluate your approach to sales, develop new marketing campaigns, or establish new processes.
- Talk openly with your leadership. Understand the top challenges facing the business today. The top two every business seems to be concerned with at the moment are: “How can we retain and help our clients through these challenging times?“ and “How do we generate new revenue?” These will likely change as we move into increasingly new stages of this crisis; by always asking, you will gain insight into what you can be doing daily to step outside your daily tasks to help your organization.
- Own it, get buy-in, execute, and evaluate. It’s your time to lead. Present your ideas that align to the top business challenges (however big or small they may be) to your leadership. Create a quick plan (on your own time) with the resources needed, proactively own the project (yes, on top of your other responsibilities), execute, and evaluate. Your execution may not be perfect, but you’ll learn from it, your company will learn from it, and your co-workers will stand up and take notice.
If you were ever looking for a time to stand out in front of your company’s executive team or owners, this is your opportunity to shine. Many employees will sit back and wait for things to happen, but those who have decided to be intentional will be noticed. Only the strongest companies and employees will survive this time of uncertainty.
The choice is yours — those who establish themselves as positive leaders that are willing to make an impact will position themselves and their company as irreplaceable.