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John Maxwell Team
John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    6 Strategies for Leading Through a Crisis

    I frequently begin my leadership insights with a story, but none is needed today. We all know the story, and the title is COVID-19. It is a pandemic that has impacted virtually every country and continent in the world. The potential for serious illness and loss of life is enough to make all of us quickly change our normal routines, postpone or cancel what we previously thought to be critically important meetings, and stockpile supplies (including more toilet paper than we know what to do with, me included).

    As a coach, consultant and speaker, my face-to-face training and coaching sessions have all been postponed or moved to online delivery.  And, as the wife of a heart transplant recipient who is on immunosuppressant medications, I have decided to “hunker down” inside my home office for most of the next three weeks to minimize bringing germs inside.

    And with a passion for developing successful leaders, I have an opportunity to support my clients by providing a significantly discounted Leadership Through a Crisis coaching package. This includes three one-hour video based coaching conversations which can be scheduled over the next four weeks.

    Many organizations have transitioned their employees to work from home where possible, to stop the spread of this novel coronavirus. They have stress tested IT systems, evaluated “essential operations roles”, updated emergency communications plans, and provided employee and business resources.

    For all of us there are new levels of social, emotional, physical, mental, financial and psychological challenges that we’ve never before experienced or imagined. And more than ever, we need individuals who know how to lead in a crisis. It’s not just about the work that needs to be done, we must pay more attention to the welfare of our teams to get it done.

    Leading through a crisis requires learning strategies to help employees, stakeholders, members, and residents cope with their new, and hopefully temporary reality. Here are six strategies to help you navigate your pathway through it.

    1. Engage Others – Talk with each of your employees or stakeholders voice-to-voice each day to ensure you understand how they’re coping with change, how other family members are doing, where they may have concerns. Encourage your team to share tips to support each other. Remember that some people thrive on interpersonal interaction, thus social distancing may be stressful, so it will be helpful to find ways for more frequent verbal connection with the team.
    2. Communicate Frequently – Assume that whatever information you and your organization have provided to employees needs to be repeated often. In a crisis, it’s common for people to forget the details or have additional questions. Reinforce your verbal messages with written ones and vice-versa. Ensure employees are aware of how to access Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits to support their health, mental and emotional well-being.
    3. Provide Security – If you’re familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you know that once our physiological needs such as breathing, food, water and sleep are met, the next human need is safety and security. We need to be physically free from harm, have employment and/or resources, feel healthy, and believe we will be treated fairly. Employees may be concerned about job loss, reassignment to a new position, financial insecurity, or status. While none of us knows quite how the COVID-19 story will end, and we all want to be optimistic, it’s important to share what you do and don’t know, and nurture trust.
    4. Communicate Clearly – Ensure your guidance and direction is clear and concise. Invite questions. Use video conferencing whenever possible so that everyone can see and read your body language. Review and prioritize your team’s projects to meet shifting customer and organizational needs. Where possible, share the organization’s short-term plans. Identify the unpredictable issues that you’re trying to manage.
    5. Be Calm – Airline pilots always give passengers a warning before they fly into turbulent airspace, and where possible they change altitude or flight path to avoid it. Navigate a path for your team that reduces turbulence. Look them in the eye. Speak in even tones. Give them warning of turbulence ahead and where possible, involve them in planning how to minimize it.
    6. Demonstrate Value – Identify approaches to reinforce each person’s value to you and the organization. The rapid changes associated with these times may impact the ways they typically provide value to the team, leaving them feeling frustrated or unfulfilled.

    If you’d like to delve into these and additional strategies to help you lead yourself and others through this crisis, I’m providing a special coaching package called Leadership Through A Crisis. This includes three one-hour video coaching sessions which can be scheduled over the next 4 weeks to specifically help you guide your team through these uncharted waters. Learn more about this special offer and chart your pathway to effectively leading through a crisis.

    Copyright 2020 Priscilla Archangel
    Photo credit iStock

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