Strong leadership is often at its most valuable during a crisis, especially one as global as COVID-19. Where structure and solid business operations guide companies towards success in typical economies, leaders are essential in times of strife, when quick actions and clear directives are needed to guide companies through unchartered waters. As we move through the motions of the pandemic, we see successful leaders often sharing the following core traits.
Companies that have been open and honest about the state of their business have earned the trust of their employees. Frequency is critical here, especially as information about COVID-19 continuously evolves. Keeping employees informed and aware, and being receptive to their feedback, are hallmarks of a successful leader during a crisis.
Current events have put workers under an immense amount of strain during the past several months. Successful leaders acknowledge this strain and make gratitude routine in their communications. Routine gratitude ensures employees know their efforts are appreciated and motivates them to put their best work forward, which will in turn help their company thrive.
Quick Action and Responsibility
Emergencies typically require swift decision making, which a competent leader should be able to do well. However, the lack of precision in such decision making, coupled with the pandemic’s uncertain nature, usually means that mistakes are bound to happen. Successful leadership will prepare for this in advance and acknowledge any missteps without sacrificing the necessary speed of their decisions. Being upfront about their actions and taking responsibility usually results in higher approval among employees, even after mistakes have been made.
It’s a difficult task in our present climate of constant change, but effective leaders are skilled at shifting and identifying priorities. These priorities should then be communicated to employees so they have clear direction on where to focus their energies. This often includes divulging the financial state of the company and being transparent about what needs to happen for the company to survive the pandemic.
Finally, although talented leaders will guide their organizations with strength and optimism, they are also often frank about their own anxieties and do not hide their own misgivings. This kind of honesty showcases empathy and builds a culture of trust within the company.
We don’t often associate traits like vulnerability and routine gratitude with strong and effective leadership, but they are consistent across leaders who have risen to the occasion in the last several months. Not only do they help build resolve in employees and ensure continued success during the drawn-out crisis of the pandemic, but they often make organizations stronger than ever before.