This is the time for transformational leadership.
During the U.S. Coronavirus crisis, there is a need for leaders who can lead during a crisis. So, what does a leader do in a time of crisis?
In crisis we need leaders who:
- Know and Lead Themselves First: Lead with Character and Courage
- Are Anchored in Purpose
- Lead with Agility and Innovation
- Execute Flawlessly (Lead for Results)
- Empathetically Lead Others
“It is said that one who knows himself and knows others will not be endangered.”
– Sun Tzu
1) Lead with Character and Courage
Leaders need to know their strengths and limitations. This is not time for ego but for humility. This is the time to ask for help from others and not try to do it all yourself. Crisis defines our character.
“One who faces and who fears the right things and from the right motive, in the right way and at the right time, possesses character worthy of our trust and admiration.”
During crisis, we look for leaders with the following 8 Cs: Have courage (exude a can-do attitude) display comfort in their own skin, remain true to their character, show candor, demonstrate composure, embrace change and are consistent.
2) Anchored in Purpose
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
– John F. Kennedy
In times of crisis, leaders anchor their teams in the purpose of the organization and their individual burning ambition.
Caring for COVID-19 is the perfect opportunity to rally and engage the team. Ultimately, this is why all of us got into healthcare: To help and heal people that need help the most.
During uncertain times, leaders are clear about what matters the most. Leaders remind and focus the team on clarity of purpose. With clarity of purpose, we can eliminate the unnecessary activities and have clarity of what matters the most. Today, what matters the most is the health and safety of our loved ones, our employees and our clients.
3) Lead with Agility and Innovation
“Strategy is like water. It adapts to the terrain it finds itself into.”
– Sun Tzu
During times of uncertainty, we need agile strategies. This is the time for leaders to engage their teams in scenario planning and simulation. When I do strategy work with my clients, we typically go through scenario planning where we lay out every potential scenario and ask questions like:
- What is?
- What if?
- What are the opportunities and threats we face now?
- How can we use uncommon thinking versus common thinking?
We then plan for best and worst case scenarios.
When resources are scarce, we tend to innovate. After all, necessity is the mother of innovation. With fewer resources, we are inspired to innovate. As leaders, we should not let a crisis go to waste. We can use this opportunity to rethink our paradigm and shift our thinking. For example, when travel is restricted, we can innovate new ways to deliver training remotely or use telemedicine to deliver care.
4) Execute Flawlessly (Lead for Results)
“The Pinnacle of excellence is not marked by the number of the victories, fame for wisdom or courageous achievement, it is about flawless execution”
– Sun Tzu
Never waste a crisis. Sometimes we tolerate inefficiency as there is no sense of urgency to change. Use this potential crisis to create the sense of urgency to reduce waste and remove hassle factors for your team and providers.
Difficult times are the times to remove every obstacle in the way of your providers and their ability to do their work. This is the time to ensure flawless execution.
5) Empathetically Leading Others
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
– Nelson Mandela
In difficult times, we have to lead from the front. We have to show empathy and care for the wellbeing of our team members and our clients. This is the time for leaders to lead with higher emotional intelligence by understanding that people have fears for their safety or that of their loved ones. As leaders, we must understand that emotions are more contagious than viruses.
During crisis, hyper-communication is critical. As in the lack of information, people make up their own stories. Transparency is critical. Communication in crisis demands certain humility and taking personal responsibility for our actions; it means admitting when we are wrong, accepting the blame and learning from it.
In crisis communication, it is critical as a leader to:
– Gather the facts and focus only on them. We must understand the situation, its components, results and future implications as much as possible.
– Tell the truth. Don’t try to hide anything. There is no substitute for this.
Plan your communication by reminding the team about the purpose and the importance of focusing on the crisis at hand.
Resources CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html