Guy Gentile – How to Lead During a Crisis


Ray Kroc, an American tycoon, once said, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” During the times of unprecedented changes in our everyday lives and working situations, it is more important than ever for business leaders to take charge and demonstrate high standards to provide the guidance their organizations need right now.

Get Back to Your Roots

Remember why you do what you do and reconnect with your purpose. Turn to your organization’s mission statement and make sure to align your goals for this time with those values. Consider why these values are essential right now and how you can align current initiatives into meaningful actions.

Now is also a great time to reconnect with people. Let your customers know how your organization is turning to their values to help by showing your customers how you are using this time to act with purpose to make a difference. According to a survey, 67 percent of customers said they feel companies with a purpose care more about them and their families and 79 percent said they’re more loyal to purpose brands.

Recognize your team and remind them how their work matters and is making a difference. Only 27 percent of business leaders guide supervisors to have conversations with their teams about why their work matters, a critical piece for employee engagement. During times of crisis, anxieties are often high, making it difficult to focus for many, so having a purpose behind their work can be comforting and motivating.

Put People First

Now, more than ever, teams need support and reassurance. A leader needs to strengthen trust by being reliable and transparent. Be proactive and get ahead on any issues that might cause worry in your organization. Discussing difficult information openly helps maintain and build trust between leaders and those they serve.

Engage and connect with individual team members on a daily basis. Take this time to communicate clearly. Not only will this help clarify expectations, but it can also help eliminate anxiety about the future by keeping them informed on what is happening behind the scenes or with any changing plans for the organization. Listen to team member concerns diligently and address them appropriately. Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

Set the Mood

Research shows that during a crisis, employees watch leaders closely for cues on how to respond. A leader’s tone and attitude can provide inspiration for a whole team. When portrayed correctly and positively, leaders can effectively impact the team’s mood. By working to acknowledge the stress and anxiety employees may feel, while also providing affirmation of your confidence in the team, you can build an upbeat company culture. Take this time to address and overcome obstacles by broadening perspectives and helping team members see what you see.

Pay attention to opportunities by keeping an open mind and a positive attitude. As you navigate and begin to identify new opportunities within your organization to prepare for the future, remain flexible. If you’re unsure of what the future holds for your organization, you can start by deciding what not to do. By determining these boundaries, you’ll be able to look at new opportunities that do not fall into the “not to do” category and gain perspective on how to integrate them. The ability to see around, beneath and beyond can help prepare your organization to quickly rebound after the crisis has passed.

Providing leadership to an organization is always important, but in times of crisis, it may demand more personal and positive engagement with employees and customers. By returning to your roots to define your organization’s values, appreciating and connecting with stakeholders and maintaining a positive, flexible outlook, you can set standards to lead your organization and ease worries.

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