What happened to the "pause" that everyone shared over two weeks ago? Anyone else feeling a little overwhelmed now trying to respond to the rapidly changing conditions around us? It is true that in times of crisis, leaders must often make bold and quick decisions. Employees are looking for support, guidance and direction. However, are we pausing and making intentional, thoughtful decisions, or are we simply reacting to our environment and operating out of "flight or fight" mode? We are hearing from many leaders now that they are more exhausted than ever trying to lead from home and balance the increasing complexity of integrating work and home life. As the COVID 19 pandemic is such a transformational change, many leaders are confused and just trying to maintain the status quo as they defined it before. One exceptional story is of Dan Price, Chief Executive Officer for Gravity. His company's revenue had essentially been cut in half. Price was facing a grave decision – lay off 20% of his employees or go bankrupt. Rather than make a top-down decision, he asked his employees for ideas. As a result, everyone was willing to make a sacrifice to keep Gravity going and avoid layoffs; not everyone could afford the same amount. Employees with higher earnings generally gave up more while lower-paid employees gave up less. Everyone took a cut! What a lesson in emotional intelligence (Inc. 2020)
This is where the power of "purpose" comes into play. Organizations now more than ever must clarify their purpose or existence. They must define their "why"! Why are they in business? Why do they do what they do? How is it different from other organizations? In times of crisis, having a core shared purpose can enable people to align and work more effectively together. This has been evidenced by the current pandemic, SARS, 9/11 and many other situations. We have been hearing incredible stories of where competing organizations have come together to produce new products/services to help fight the pandemic. Individuals and teams are busting silos not only within their organizations but across organizations to share information and to work together for a common cause.
Here are 8 Steps Leaders Can Take Now (Ref. Korn Ferry, April 8, 2020)
1. Be purposeful. Remind people why it is so important that we exist. See the crisis as a new way to serve others and leverage purpose as a new tool of innovation.
2. Be empathetic. Acknowledge other's stress and know that employees are struggling with personal, family and business issues. Show that you care about them.
3. Be calm, clear and confident. Tell the real story and be authentic. Express a vision for the future and convert anxiety into the attitude "we will get through this together."
4. Be both action-oriented and reflective. Recognize the polarity of pause and action when each is important. Step back, see the big picture and reflect, learn and strategize when the pace and bias for work are too high.
5. Be inspiring. Share stories about the organization's purpose and rally people around it. Share stories of success in how you have served your people and clients.
6. Practice resilience. Take care of your energy, wellness and fitness and help others do the same.
7. Be courageous. Make the tough decisions on purpose and with courage and pay attention to fear-based, reactive decisions. Inspire others with your energy and positivity.
8. Practice a growth mindset. Catch yourself in fixed/fear mindsets and move to growth mindsets before acting or behaving. (See image below)
Image 1: Growth Mindset (Source unknown)