Written by Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council (including Manex President & CEO Gene Russell)
Reposted with Permission — Originally on Forbes.com
Leading others is a challenge in the best of times, and even more so in the worst of times. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, strong leadership is more important now than ever.
When facing a crisis such as this, business leaders must step up and set the tone for how to proceed. Leaders who project calmness, bravery and empathy will instill those traits in their employees—giving the team and company a better chance at successfully moving forward.
If you’re looking to lead your team through a crisis, try these 16 tips from the members of Forbes Coaches Council.
1. Lead From The Back
Do you remember the old cliche? “People will remember what you do, not what you say.” It is so incredibly true. Make sure you are showing empathy by asking caring questions, then listen! Assure you are acting as a leader by serving others. I have found one of the best tools in creating calm and bravery is leading from the back. A true leader speaks last and listens intently. Be approachable! – Stephynie Malik, SMALIK Enterprises
2. Don’t Fake It
It really helps if you have developed this ability. Often we see failures in very young, inexperienced leaders. Some things take time, and perspective and experience can give a leader a sense of calm because they have been through several crisis situations. I would coach a leader with no experience to practice all forms of communications and never act on impulse. Rely on experts. Write it out. – Gene Russell, Manex Consulting
3. Listen More Than You Talk
Active listening is an essential tool in times of uncertainty or crisis. There is great power in allowing team members to share their feelings and ask questions. By doing so, you will be able to better understand what is on their mind and where they need clarification. By listening actively, you may even learn new information you did not know before that can help guide future decisions. – G. Riley Mills, Pinnacle Performance Company
4. Attune Yourself To What Your Employees Need
You want to be the consistent leader who people turn to for empathy, reassurance and emotional stability. People will be influenced by your emotions: Your emotional expression will radiate to the people you lead within five minutes. If you are attuned to calm, unwavering authenticity and caring for your employees, they will pick that up like a tuning fork and respond to your message. – Roberta Moore, The EQ-i Coach
5. Shift Your Focus Toward Others
When I find myself in the midst of a crisis, I shift the focus off myself and onto others. I don’t feel sorry for myself, entertain fear or get stuck watching television or news all day. Those things will only hold me back. Instead, I focus on becoming a servant leader who is committed to helping others. I focus on my clients, family and community. The reward is always greater than the sacrifice. – Roger Doumanian, The Roger Doumanian Corporation
6. Bookend Your Day With Intentional Words
Set the tone for your day by priming. Take a few deep breaths and select the word or words you want to carry with you for the day—words like “focus,” “calm,” “patience.” Let those words follow you and surface throughout the day. Give them permission. In the evening, right before bed, replay the day, noticing where you were aligned with your choices. Rest, knowing you were on track, even a little. – Dena Breslin, DenaB Coaching
7. Act According To Your Positive Personal Values
Positive values give you the inner drive to do what is important, effective and meaningful. Doing something good for your customers, users or stakeholders is more sustainable and motivating, and gives you much more joy and fulfillment than just acting nervously. If your customers, employees or suppliers share the same good values, they will be behind your brand and products, even in a crisis. – Michael Thiemann, Strategy-Lab™
8. Embody The Humanness That Connects Us
We often shy away from addressing the elephant in the room, especially if it is an emotional one. Inspiring the best in our teams means we need to acknowledge and embody the humanness that connects us. Calling out the vulnerability and uncertainty can reap positive benefits by generating a shared experience and a greater sense of trust. Moving forward is a much lighter task from here. – Marnie Mclain, Marnie Mclain Coaching
9. Lead With Strength And Vulnerability
What people need from leaders in this moment are not projections—they need authenticity. The bulk of feedback I’ve received during this crisis is around my vulnerable shares in my moments of sadness and loneliness. People need leaders they can relate to. While it’s important for us to share our strengths, as leaders it’s also important to share the truth about our full range of emotions. – Bri Seeley, Seeley Enterprises Inc.
10. Put People First, Profit Second
Your organization is in need of a leader who is ready to stand in the captain’s chair and demonstrate a genuine care for people. There are plenty of people who can effectively work from home during normal circumstances. However, these are far from normal. It is important that you set the standard for flexibility while working from home. – Anthony Garcia, Anthony Garcia Inc.
11. Lead By Example
In times of crisis, employees look up to their leaders for guidance and support. Leaders who are naturally calm and resilient will be able to project those qualities; it is always inside-out. No one has all the answers and it is OK to admit that, but doing your best to mitigate the crisis and emanating calm and level-headedness will inspire and instill confidence. – Jelena Radonjic, WhatWork Career Coaching Ltd
12. Learn To Manage Your Energy
Peter Drucker said, “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help to orchestrate the energy of those around you.” The temptation for leaders is to shoot the wolf closest to the sled. Such thinking is fear-based and fails to lead a team, provide inspiration or direction. Leaders must manage their energy and lift, inspire and encourage others. – Severin Sorensen, ePraxis
13. Develop Self-Awareness And Self-Control
Be mindful that you’re role-modeling leadership—the responsible, caring adult. You need both self-awareness and self-control to think quickly, explain what’s happening (including any immediate steps you’re taking) and instill hope through your words, actions and demeanor. You want to be calm, compassionate and inspiring. Vulnerable is good too, as long as you’re not the “deer in the headlights.” – Liz Guthridge, Connect Consulting Group
14. Build Trusting Relationships
When communicating, be succinct and clear to avoid miscommunication. Prepare your conversations to make sure you’re clear on what you can and cannot say. Make sure your body language and messaging are consistent. Mean what you’re saying, but make sure your body language communicates this. Look people in the eye when you communicate—avoid talking when you look away. Eye contact communicates trust. – Stacey Hanke, Stacey Hanke Inc.
15. ‘Refuel’ When You Need To
We won’t be a source of calm, courage and empathy for others if we’re running on empty ourselves. Increase your resilience through regular “refueling” practices. Be a trusted fuel gauge; acknowledge the challenges and clarify what is known and not known. Focus on what you can do. Identify and build on even small signs of progress. Create a consistent cadence of connection and communication. – Coach Kelly Holm, Coach Kelly & Associates
16. Ask Yourself How You’ll Show Up Today
Check in with yourself in the morning. What are your levels of energy, stress and engagement? Be aware of what’s happening internally so you can make the adjustment to show up externally. Write down how you want to show up for your people each and every day. – Rami Shapov, Westforth Leadership