Crisis Leadership During COVID-19

Social isolation and volatility of the financial markets are the perfect cocktail for mental health issues, disengagement and low productivity. How can employers best support their employees?

Disruption Brings New Opportunities

by Susan Power, Founder & CEO of PowerUPLeadership

Amazon announced this week that they are hiring 100,000 new employees globally as a result of the spike of online activity.  There is opportunity in disruption.  To see it, your people need to get in the right mindset and increase their resilience.  Our focus has shifted rapidly from profit to community.

Opportunities from Power UpLeadership

Inspired Leadership Means Giving Back.

Now is the perfect opportunity for your organization to demonstrate its values. This is the time to give back and make it an easier time, however, you can.  Whether it is buying local to support community businesses, donating your expertise or resources, or having your Senior Leadership Team reach out to employees and clients to check in on them and see if they need any support during COVID-19. What can your organization offer to make this an easier time? What can you as an individual do?

We have already seen evidence of inspired leadership by corporate leaders such as Adobe offering free creative software and Tim Horton’s delivering free coffee to hospitals to say thank-you to health care workers for their courageous work. Rogers is showing leadership by offering free tv channels and access to Microsoft 365 office software (in partnership with Microsoft) to help working parents and other Canadians work from home.  Power UP Leadership is offering probono advisory support on employer response efforts to COVID-19 including employment standards,remote working, and how to coach employees.

Leaders will Encourage Employees to Make Development a Priority.

With social isolation, there has never been a better time for self-development to read books, take an online course, and self-reflect.  This is the perfect time to  make time for professional development and to encourage your team to learn.  Have you always wanted to complete a half marathon?  This is the perfect time to start jogging outside. Have you always wanted to home-school your kids? This is the time to pilot it. Have you always want to learn more about a certain topic? This is the time to read those books and take online training.

A Large Segment of Employees will Continue Working Remotely. 

This means less time commuting, environmental benefits, and more time to be spent with our families and eventually our friends once social isolation lifts. Here are some Tips for Remote Working from 100+Leaders and Workers. We believe employers will start hiring more talent outside their immediate geographic area as remote work becomes the new norm. This will open up opportunities to our highly educated workforce in Canada and expand our market opportunities with less expectation of business travel.  It will also skyrocket gig employment as employers will be more comfortable with it. There is an excellent article on a 10-Step Action Plan for Taking Your Team Remote published by Recruitment.com.

PowerUp Leadership’s Top Tips to Power UP Your Leadership in a Crisis.

1. Communicate Calmly Each Day with Specific Information on the Plan.

It is critical that your Senior Leadership Team communicate effectively during this crisis. The more certainty you can offer to employees about what actions have been taken and what the plan is going forward.

Klann advises leaders in times of crisis to remember the big picture: “Concentrate on the greater vision you have of yourself, both personally and professionally. Think about where you will be and what you will be doing a year from now,” he says. “Stop and realize that you are alive and that much good will come out of the crisis.”

By paying attention to your own emotions, needs, and behaviors, you will be better prepared to handle the human dimensions of the crisis. As a result, you will be more capable of containing the crisis, regaining control, minimizing damage, and effectively preventing, defusing, and reducing the duration of an extremely difficult leadership situation. As much certainty as you can provide to employees, to honestly answer their questions will calm anxiety and help employees navigate. Check out this book on Crisis Leadership for ideas on how to communicate with certainty and emotional impact.

2.  Lead with a Light Touch Prioritizing Emotional Connection.

During a crisis, people’s emotions rise up, and the leader’s job is to remain calm, steady and acknowledge emotions that surface so balance can be restored. This is not the time to introduce any other unnecessary stress, workload or requests. Now is the time to take the extra time to connect with people, empathize with what they are feeling, and ask how you can help support them. Leaders can build deep relationships during a crisis by expressing how they are feeling, and making themselves vulnerable. Relationship building can happen at a deep level during a crisis. We are all going through this!

Employees will remember how your company treated them during this crisis situation.  They will remember if you shared information with them regularly. They will reflect on how you  made them feel during an uncertain time.  Did you reassure them? Did you express care for their well being and give them flexibility to take care of their children and elders? Did you share resources with them on how to manage their anxiety and mental health.  Did you make payroll on time?

3. Thank, Praise and Recognize Your Team and Front Line Workers. 

During a crisis, it is more critical than ever to maintain the emotional reserves of the team through frequent, authentic and regular praise. People are fatigued with all the change and disruption, and you can energize them by calling them unexpectedly and saying thank you for their work , and acknowledging that you appreciate that they continue to show up and give their best each day.

At PowerUPLeadership we know that when you Multiply Your Leaders You Grow Your Business

Learn more about our upcoming Resiliency Live Zoom Video Training, starts April 1.  Limited seating up to 12.