Leadership in Times of Crisis

Leadership in Times of Crisis

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Leadership during COVID-19 – The pandemic will show true leaders

What really defines a leader? And what does it define in times of crisis? I have heard a lot of definitions of a true leader but I always thought a great leader is the one that defends his pack (team).

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so deep our lives and businesses that has obliged us to take difficult decisions every day. And now, it is more evident than before who is a true leader and who is a traditional boss. And take for sure that this crisis will leave a mark on us for ever and bad leaders will be remembered for long time.

But, what are those skills that make good leaders differentiate from bad leaders in these times of crisis? What behaviors are we seeing in our companies that are correct from a leadership point of view? Has this pandemic be managed in the same way as any other crisis? The answer in my opinion is no.

First, leaders need to Align expectations during the covid19 outbreak. In a crisis like this one, no one has all the answers, and given that, it is necessary to approach the unknown and speak with honesty and confidence, in an environment where people expect rapid answers and action. Aligning expectations and realities requires skills, insights and patience. Don’t expect immediate results.

Secondly, now leaders need to keep ideas in positive: Positive thoughts and actions focus on strengths, successes, opportunities and collaboration. Leaders radiate confidence, hope and optimism that leads to positive energy and confidence. Nowadays we are seeing a lot of examples of those alias in some large corporations; for sure they are struggling internally with many problems but they need to focus on positive things like their employees, generosity, collaboration and help to those most in need.

Leading with empathy

Leaders during COVID-19 need to show Empathy with their employees

But now true leaders need also to demonstrate empathy: Listen to understand. Show their people, their employees, their customers, that they really care about their perspective during the pandemic. Recognize behaviors and respond to emotions. Remember that empathy is not about what you want, it is about what your employees or your customers need.

Now, in these difficult moments, it is when a true leader lees to keep the calm and take care of their physical and emotional shape. The decisions they make will be critical for their teams and they need to be in the best shape they can.

The Authentic leader Knows what he represents: What is his purpose, mission and values, no matter the business is a critical situation and could go bankrupt. Each action must reflect this strategic vision. It is important that leaders work from a purpose, from a mission that motivates and inspires teams for action.

“Now true leaders need to Demonstrate empathy: listen to understand, show their people, their employees, their customers, that they really care about their perspective during the pandemic”

Because true leaders enable others to became also leaders and here it appears the concept of exponential leadership that can make overcome the crisis sooner. Everyone can be inspired by good leaders and influence his own direct environment.

Have a clear plan

What it is more evident during the management of this COVID-19 is the lack of a clear plan. If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there. Focus and discipline are essential. Visualizing success and creating a plan that is easy to understand and at the same time flexible to respond to the unknown is very important. That means looking beyond the immediate to anticipate the next obstacles.

Leaders simply must lead. They work from within themselves, with the courage, emotional intelligence, and integrity to navigate the crisis around them. They don’t panic and see an opportunity in a crisis to transform themselves and the people around them and have a plan to communicate it in a clear way.

Leading without power

Therefore, trust is not worked with fear, nor with retaliation, nor with pressure, much less with blackmail. You have to have the competence to count and share successes and failures (always to improve, not to look for culprits). Fear-based management is the beginning of the end of engagement. Deliberate calm and limited optimism are two essential aspects.

Leaders need to eliminate external or internal pressure when making decisions and set the course for the team or organization. And also the leader needs to accept the uncertainty of the pandemic crisis but proposing and adopting measures that will move the organization forward.

And, in the environment we are living now, we find teams much better than their leaders / bosses, capable of assuming that role without any problem, as is currently the case in more than one healthcare organization in the days of covid-19.

Ernesto Rincon

Ernesto Rincon

I am leading the Innovation Business Development Team for South Europe region at SAP. I am advising C-level management at strategic customers on the impact of Digital Transformation and Innovation on their business models. I am also leading the Digital Finance practice at University Carlos III of Madrid and I am Co-director of the Master of Tech Processes Sales at Sales Innovation School.

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