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Leadership during crisis: Work together to weather the storm

By April 8, 2020 No Comments

From the local bakery to the multinational corporation, the corona crisis requests strong leadership at all levels. Leaders have the important task to navigate their organisation and employees, and therefore society, through these difficult times. Question remains: how to approach this kind of responsibility? We have identified three best practices for effective leadership during a time of crisis.

#1 Show empathy and remain connected
Employees are your main priority as a leader. Therefore, it is essential to show empathy and compassion for the personal and professional challenges employees currently face. Acknowledge the complexity of the situation and emphasize that you are in this together. This requires special attention by being supportive and showing appreciation towards your employees. Recognition can be sparked by contacting your employees regularly. Ask them how they are doing, how they feel about their workload and how their needs can be addressed. By setting an example, employees will start to check-in with each other as well, which will foster team spirit. During the check-ins, it is paramount for leaders to stress the importance of a healthy work-life balance. Additionally, you should encourage your employees to take time to relax to stay physically, socially and mentally in good condition.

#2 Communicate frequently and transparently
Besides showing empathy and remaining connected, these uncertain times call for clear and transparent communication. Take a fixed moment every week in which you provide transparency about the impact of the crisis and the outlook after the crisis. Clarity sparks confidence and creates a sense of security among employees. Make sure, just like our prime minister, to emphasize that you will constantly adapt to the latest insights as not everything can already be foreseen. It is important to be cautious with regards of the terminology you use in your communication, as words have a big impact on sentiment. It is recommended to emphasize on solidarity (by using words like ‘we’ and ‘together’) and faith (by using words like ‘collective flexibility, ‘our future’ and ‘your power’).

#3 Provide future perspective
Apart from the challenges we are currently facing, the coronavirus outbreak also provides ample opportunity. It is for a good reason that the Chinese sign of crisis is similar to the sign of opportunity. Translating this to leadership means addressing risks is equally important to addressing opportunities. Take time to reflect: What can our organisation learn from this situation, is it time to change directions? This helps to provide a realistic but positive future perspective to your employees. Creating perspective will increase trust among your employees and will rekindle motivation to contribute to this collective (renewed) goal. Challenge employees to explore creative ways to turn the apparent challenges into opportunities. To make those ideas work, ensure a dedicated approach: identify critical success factors, make sure to accelerate fast and evaluate continuously. Besides, daily check-ins with the team will foster collaboration. Read more information about how to design this in a digital environment. By enabling employees with enough space, time and mandate to make it work and by focussing on (small) achievements, collective energy will increase, which is necessary combating the corona crisis.

Would you like to talk about working in a digital environment within your organization or use the momentum to get a head start? We are more than ready to help you explore new opportunities! On our website we will share more blogs, hand-outs and other materials related to efficiently working from home.

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Eline Reurik

Author Eline Reurik

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