The COVID-19 pandemic may not be the work-related crisis we expected in 2020, but it reminds us that strong leadership directly impacts success.
Sound personal health, proper planning and regular, two-way communication are as helpful in a health crisis as they are in dealing with a manpower shortage or unhappy client. Developing a few good habits and processes will help you be better poised to turn a problematic situation into a success.
Before you can tackle any emerging crisis it is important to be healthy. If you’re not mentally and physically sharp you won’t be able to devote your full resources to challenges and make the best decisions.
“We need to be healthy. We’ve got to be healthy,” says Michael Brown, founder and principal consultant at Insight Leadership Group in Fayetteville. “When I talk about leadership I talk about loving life at work and loving life at home. How can we be healthy in both areas of our life? If we are healthy leaders when the crisis hits we’re better off.”
You don’t have to be ready to run a marathon, but it’s important to get up, have daily activity and keep the blood flowing. Exercise leads to better rest and a general feeling of well-being that will carry over in a more positive approach to work and home life.
Likewise, planning helps your health. Planning your week, in your home life and at work, will help mitigate unpleasant surprises and minimize panic and unhealthy confrontations.
“It helps avoid creating easily avoidable conflicts because we know what is coming,” Brown says.
With health and preparedness, you are ready to take steps to deal with whatever crisis is before you.
Keys to Succeeding in Crisis
1. Analyze The Problem
How big is the challenge? Talk it over, knock it down to size and get your leadership team in harmony. Brown uses the analogy of whitewater rafting and classifying the rapids.
“If the CFO said this is a Class 5 and the CEO said this is a Class 2 we know there’s disagreement about this challenge” Brown says. “Let’s get on the same page … which then helps everyone have a healthy conversation about what it is we have to solve.”
2. Have a Team Game Plan
Unexpected changes may alter your plan, but it is important to have one. Meet and set your goals and processes at the outset. A clear plan gives team members from wandering off into a thicket of uncertainty.
“Here’s our rules of engagement,” Brown says. “Here’s our game plan on how we work together moving forward.”
3. Update Goals and Strategies
Keep your company abreast of changes as you reevaluate goals and strategies.
“During COVID, obviously, things changed,” Brown says. “Some of our short-term goals had to shift because the parameters of how we’re operating are changing. Let’s communicate what is changing and why it’s changing so people can process it in a healthy way and be on board.”
4. Check In
Regular updates and check-ins with team members can keep you nimble and abreast of developments while also making clear to individuals they are supported and valued. The other tips won’t work without the check-in, Brown says.
“How can I support you as leadership, as a boss, to get you through this?” Brown says. “What barriers can I get out of the way for you?”
Challenges will come and there will be tough days no matter how well prepared you are as a leader. A healthy lifestyle, coupled with communication and planning are vital to reducing stress, conflict and, most important, getting the job done.
In the COVID-19 era, when work and home are often in the same place, these things become even more important.
“Now at the end of the day it’s not driving home, it’s walking to the kitchen,” Brown says. “If we don’t leverage our strengths it’s one of those days where we have migraines, we’re exhausted, we’re fried and we gave all that we could give at work and now we can’t give at home.”