The novel coronavirus pandemic has tested us like never before. All around the world, educational institutions and businesses have faced an unprecedented volley of crises and while a lot of organizations understandably faltered through it all, many remained resilient and emerged stronger. Strong leadership is often the driving force behind steering an organization through troubled times and here are a few key qualities that every leader must possess if they are to navigate a crisis situation successfully.
Effective & Honest Communication
Communication is probably the most important skill needed when dealing with a crisis situation. All throughout history, great leaders have used effective communication to motivate people, galvanise them, and provide hope. In a crisis situation such as this pandemic, misinformation and miscommunication are a recipe for disaster, especially because it is a time when people look to their leaders to provide a sense of calm and stability. Hence, leaders need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely in order to assuage peoples fears and concerns. Leaders should also put a premium on communicating in a timely manner by relaying the most pertinent information quickly.
Adaptability & Agility
Leadership is all about planning in advance, but more often than not, things do not go according to plans and this pandemic has been an apt example of that. During times like these, leaders need to exhibit the willingness to adapt to a crisis and work the problem. For example, businesses that adapted to stringent social distancing norms during lock downs by going online and creating a strong digital back end are the ones that are now thriving. Good leaders should be willing to look at a problem from a different perspective and be able to think of agile solutions that can make the best of a bad situation.
Risk is an inevitable part of our world today and no modern day CEO can afford to be ignorant of risk management. Being risk-aware and introducing strong risk management processes in ones organization can ensure that a company and its employees are prepared to weather adverse events such as a pandemic, a cyber-attack, any natural disaster, and much more.
Too often, being strong and resilient becomes synonymous with showing no emotion. But this notion has time and again been proven wrong. In fact, there is strength in leaders showing empathy and emotional vulnerability; it shows people that they too are human and that together a crisis can be overcome. A great example of a leader communicating with empathy would be that of New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, her clear messaging has been constantly laced with kindness and emotion, whether it was the Christchurch attacks or the COVID-19 pandemic, her empathetic demeanor has been the epitome of good leadership.
Providing Emotional Support
In her latest article titled Real Leaders Are Forged in Crisis business historian Nancy Koehn talks about how crises can take their toll on leaders and employees alike. She therefore encourages leaders to nurse their emotional wellbeing in a time of crisis so that they can be emotionally and mentally available for their employees when needed. A crisis of mammoth proportions like this global pandemic can fuel unprecedented anxieties; people are worried about losing their jobs, financial security, losing their loved ones, falling sick themselves, and much more. Amidst such fear, it is the job of leaders to have a pulse on their employees, ask them if they are doing ok, and listen to what they need.
Modern day leadership models are an amalgamation of EQ and IQ and only those who can straddle both these spheres effectively can emerge as strong leaders during a crisis.