lead

How to Lead When It Matters Most

By Ed Mitzen

It’s safe to say that this year hasn’t gone the way anyone planned. The coronavirus pandemic swiftly flipped the world upside down, leaving everyone struggling to adjust. Now more than ever, people look to those in leadership positions to unify them and ease their concerns as much as possible. This is true of employees, too. Leaders should remember that especially during tough times, their example will be remembered long after things return to normal. Believe it or not, difficult circumstances can cement a company’s culture and the loyalty of its employees.

There are a few characteristics that those in influential positions should try to emulate every day, but especially during times of crisis.

Lead with Calmness

As much as possible, it’s important for management to continue running a business as usual. Certainly, during times of crisis, we’ll all need to adapt to a new reality. But leaders should remain steadfast in their dedication to the company and commitment to getting their work done. Although a lot has changed in recent days, this sense of normalcy can be reassuring to everyone and a distraction from the constant headlines we’ve all been subjected to as of late. 

Lead with Clarity

Communication is always key, but especially now when many of us are leading virtually and don’t have the luxury of addressing employees at in-person meetings, swinging by people’s desks, or catching up over lunch or coffee. Continue to keep your employees in the loop on the policies and procedures you’ve established to address the situation, and communicate any updates to these plans. As a result, your staff will feel informed and empowered to carry out the great work they do every day.

Lead with Compassion

Nonessential businesses that have the capability to allow their employees to work from home have likely encountered a few hiccups in the transition to remote business models. Instead of popping by a coworker’s desk to ask a question, you must now do so electronically. Additionally, with schools out across the country, employees likely have to work alongside spouses, children, pets, and other family members. The responsibilities of home and work lives are clashing constantly, and good leaders should understand that. Lead your teams with empathy and give them the flexibility they’ll need to effectively manage everything on their plate. I built my entire company culture at Fingerpaint around this value, and it’s allowed us to grow from nothing to an $80 million, 350-plus employee health and wellness advertising agency. Employees will appreciate this beyond belief and feel comforted knowing that leadership recognizes everything they’re juggling.

As scary as the past few months have been, we will come out stronger on the other side. Even though our world may look a little different, if you follow these guidelines, your employees can take solace in the fact that when it was most important, their leadership showed up for them and did the best they could to make sure their workers felt supported and prioritized.

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