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Keeping It Human: The Pathway to Positive Action During a Crisis

The COVID-19 virus has turned the business world on its head. Individuals within all facets of businesses are struggling with maintaining some sense of operational cadence while still being sensitive to the fact that the information around this global crisis is literally changing by the hour.

So, how do organizational leaders maintain their leadership status without being perceived as overbearing or insensitive to the active situation we are living through? Perhaps the simple answer is: Keep It Human.

Reinforce Core Values

People are clamoring for some sense of stability. While things remain fluid, in terms of short-term financial security and job sustainability, one thing leaders can leverage during this environment of uncertainty is the organization’s core values. Communicating and reinforcing the company’s vision, mission, and values will remind associates about the foundational truths the organization is built upon. It will help the culture come together and bond around these common values that can hold the company together during the crisis.

Focus on Positives

Employees are bombarded with information; primarily around the “not-to-do’s.” Leaders should lean into the positives to build morale and confidence within the company. Small gestures like a written note, a brief phone call, or other acts of appreciation will go a long way. Outward leadership appreciation demonstrates genuine gratitude for people going above and beyond during difficult times. That positive vibe will resonate throughout the organization. Be Visibly Present This is a tough one given the social distancing and lack of in person interactions. However, virtual meetings, utilizing video technology, are good placeholders for the real deal. Consider sending out a weekly video message to all associates. Actively communicating what you are doing as a leader and illustrating where your presence is needed makes the organization feel connected and involved. The body language and facial expressions become crucially important in conveying important messages—or even sound bites—that are both intentional and relatable. People want to see their leaders in action.

Emphasize Importance of Customer Value

Delivering customer value is a mantra that resonates with every business, whether you area restaurant, accounting firm or manufacturer. And when the crisis fades, customers will remember how the relationships weathered the storm. Did the businesses reach out to make sure its customer base felt connected? Which businesses demonstrated a true compassion for the communities they serve? Did the leaders in the organization try to communicate with its loyalists in a manner that was believable and genuine versus shallow and forced? All smart businesses recognize it’s a lot harder to acquire a new customer as opposed to cultivating and growing existing relationships. Keep top-of mind awareness by reminding customers what value you are providing; even in tough times like these.

Keep Making Decisions

Strong leaders know the importance of decision making. This crisis is a real catalyst for productive procrastination. It would be easy for leadership to halt decision making activities because of the daily roller coaster we’re riding on today. But organizations are depending on their leaders to be nimble, proactive and resolute in their leadership abilities. That may mean saying no more often and/or saying yes more often. Either way, demonstrating swift (yet strategic) decision making heightens employees’ confidence and respect for the C-suite. After all, hope is not a strategy. Leaders need to keep leading in these turbulent times. Keeping the internal and external conversations open is important. And keeping the dialogue simple with a sense of humanity is critical.

[ About the Author ]

Henrietta Pepper

Henrietta Pepper

Independent Marketing Branding Strategist

Henrietta Pepper is an independent Marketing Branding Strategist and UK-UofL EMBA Graduate. She currently holds an adjunct teaching position with University of Louisville.