Importance Of Leadership During Tempestuous Times
Indeed, one cannot escape from the unending stream of global unrest; the pandemic has confirmed this. In extraordinary times, people often turn to their mentors or leaders for reassurance and guidance more than ever before. However, leading through a crisis, upholding the expectations of the entire workforce and ensuring a sustainable recovery can be one of the most challenging challenges a leader or an organisation can ever face. The tempestuous times keep the boards up at night because they need to ensure that the company emerges with as little reputational damage as possible.
Not all leaders, however, are prepared to face a sudden upheaval in the organisation's functions and if a company’s top leader is ill-prepared to meet new expectations in an uncertain climate, the results can be tragic. The way a leader acts during a crisis establishes their credentials as a good leader or a bad one. Since each new crisis is unique in its own way, with its own challenges and problems, it will require a different approach from the one used before. So if you are a leader and want to lead change, here are few points to help you think of your role in leading people during times of uncertainty.
Great Leaders Do What Others Cannot
During a crisis, the c-suite is expected to give the company an edge for when normalcy inevitably returns in addition to waiting for better times. It is their responsibility to keep their organisations afloat, inspire people to innovate, build a strong communication network to keep the employees motivated and try to preserve as many jobs as possible. Though it is quite challenging, leaders are expected to be courageous enough to deal with the immediate problems, as well as, to do the things that will connect the organisation to the future. One needs to be both empathetic and execution driven.
While it is easy to set aside purpose in a crisis as survival becomes the priority, a strong leader would always realise that purpose elevates us from "survive to thrive". The leaders who don't move away from their purpose in any kind of situation usually are the ones who emerge as world-class leaders in a crisis.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower", – Steve Jobs.
"WHILE IT IS EASY TO SET ASIDE PURPOSE IN A CRISIS AS SURVIVAL BECOMES THE PRIORITY, A STRONG LEADER WOULD ALWAYS REALISE THAT PURPOSE ELEVATES US FROM SURVIVE TO THRIVE"
Talking about the ongoing crisis, many organisations run by great leaders have removed boundaries in ways no one thought was possible. It has resulted in accelerated decision making, higher tolerance for mistakes, technological transformation overnight, reinventing core processes and adopting new collaboration tools. As the uncertainty continues to linger, let us highlight the key leadership traits required to recover from a crisis:
1. Realigning Business Strategy
During a crisis, leaders are supposed to make some hard, critical and quick decisions. What you plan and strategise to achieve by end of a financial year might seem a distant reality. It is the time when leaders are expected to quickly yet efficiently realign the business strategy, come up with revival plans to ensure minimum impact on revenues while making sure that the expectations of clients/customers are not compromised. Hence, leaders who are decisive, confident, action oriented and open to adapting their decisions to suit the needs of a situation usually have more success weathering a crisis than a leader who keeps waiting for normalcy to return. After all, a crisis is not the time when you can evaluate the pros and cons of a decision at a leisurely pace.
2. People Management
During difficult times, there is panic across the workplace and chances of mis-information spreading through verticals. From layoffs to salary cuts, employees are worried about many aspects surrounding their survival and future. Hence, people management and preventing misinformation from spreading ignorance and ambiguity becomes one of the key responsibilities of leaders.
The unrest within the organisation can have catastrophic effects on the company's image, brand value and revenues, rising suspicions about its future. Hence, it is crucial to keep your employees updated about the current situation of the company as well as keep them in confidence that they are the most valuable asset of the company. The goal is to build a sense of belongingness and help teams to create open lines of communication.
3. Growth Hacking
Every leader will do whatever needed to grow the business and their persistence towards survival and re-gaining the growth trajectory of a business is most desired during difficult times. A greater leader is the one who comes up with innovative ways to get things on track and achieve a definite result. In today’s competitive environment, successful leaders will be the one who constantly adapt and adopt strategic methods for getting the results that they want.
4. Resource Optimisation
Leaders are expected to come up with innovative processes and methods to match the available resources with the needs of the organisation to achieve established goals, more so during a crisis. It is an important skill of a leader as during a crisis, the organisation’s demands tend to saturate or exceed the resources available with the company, making it more crucial than ever to achieve the desired results within a set timeframe and budget.
5. Stay Calm & Act Wisely
This might sound easy but very difficult to implement. If not anyone else in the organisation, at least a leader must act positively during a crisis. However, being positive does not mean to be blindly optimistic. A positive attitude helps in executing hard decisions, staying calm and ultimately preventing panic waves.
The business leaders need to act immediately during a crisis - identify the critical job roles, map the skill requirements, and make the workforce ready for the evolving world of work. Instead of fearing the situation, leaders should leverage a crisis an opportunity to acknowledge responsibility, prove capabilities, take ownership and enact change.
"It is in times of crisis that good leaders emerge". - Rudolph W. Giuliani.