Stepping Up as a Leader in a Crisis

1.     Feature Article


Stepping Up as a Leader in a Crisis

You set the tone for the entire organization
How we lead right now says so much about us. In times of adversity and change, we really discover who we are and what we’re made of. One of my favorite quotes is “Tough times don’t build character, they reveal it.”

You can’t pick and choose when you want to lead. We didn’t choose to become a leader because it was always going to be easy. We wanted to be that person that others could count on, to take control, that could handle and navigate through any situation no matter its size. Now is the time to step up. Your employees are counting on you. They believe in you.

It is imperative to confidently show all our employees that this is temporary and WILL pass. We need to appreciate the anxiety and stress every employee, fellow leader, vendor, and customer is having during these difficult times. Morale is bound to be low, and we need to do our best to reduce their fear and anxiety.

I personally have found that I am at my best when my companies and I are being challenged or fighting for survival. In a strange way, I am actually comfortable with, and become more energized by the obstacles in our way. That is my nature. While the others are panicking and making short sighted decisions, my confidence level increases.

I act like I have been waiting for this day; I knew it was coming and we are poised and ready for it. Everyone in our company is in the best place they could be. We will not only survive; we will thrive as a result.

Now is not time for “your best”
This may sound mean or unsympathetic, but one of my least favorite sayings is “I gave my best.” To me, it is an unacceptable crutch; I don’t want to hear it. My personal feeling is this: when the goal is to accomplish greatness, go where no one or team has gone before—your best won’t be good enough. Your best is what you were capable of in the past. You have to figure it out, to try a thousand ways, if need be try another thousand ways, innovate, lose sleep, get around it, find loopholes, research, sweat like you never have before.

Every extraordinary accomplishment, invention, or revolution was not a result of someone giving his or her best. Somehow that person or group found a way to do what no one else could do; they did the impossible; they did what no one had ever done before.

Communicate like never before
Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Your employees need to hear more from you more than ever. Not just through emails and texting. Call them, have bi-weekly zoom calls. I love what Verne Harnish said in his blog last week: “I strongly suggest your #1 KPI this week is how many minutes of talk time (not texting) you get with colleagues, advisors, friends, and extended family each day – dramatically up your talk time.” I highly recommend signing up for Verne’s weekly insights.

Two months from now, not one employee will complain by saying, “My boss was so annoying.” In all our communication, we need to be 100% transparent, especially with our team. Make sure your employees know the sacrifices everyone is making, including the company, i.e. tapping into lines of credit, cutting executives’ salaries, etc. While we don’t know when or how soon “normal” will return, let them know your short- & long-term strategies.

*Related – How To Increase Morale And Collaboration Virtually

Refer to Your Core Values, Mission, Purpose, And Service Vision Statements
This is why you created them; these are the foundation of what your business was built on. Pull them out, talk about what they mean during times like this. Walk the talk and constantly be sharing examples of how your people are modeling them through times like this.

This isn’t happening TO us, it is happening FOR us
Find the gift. When The DiJulius Group’s leadership team originally met to discuss how to address ways we were going to handle this pause in our business, I will be honest, I was prepared to talk about how to reduce the financial strain on the company and the potential of reducing payroll. However, something that came up in our conversations were all the great initiatives and ideas we have come up with in the past, that we have never had the time to develop. These ideas and innovations are critical to our evolution and growth of our brand, i.e. new revenue streams, better processes, education, training, products, etc. Stuff we should have done years ago that by not having done them has hurt the potential growth of our business. This actually got me excited that we can use this time in such a positive and productive way so when we return to business as usual, we will be in so much better shape. To the point I believe by 2021, we will be significantly better positioned for growth than had the crisis not taken place.

What are you Consuming?
I ask this question every week to my customer experience consultants. What are you consuming in your area of expertise to make you smarter today than you were yesterday, to ensure you are the smartest person doing what you do? Now more than ever we have the time. Whether you are working virtually or temporarily not working—you need to invest in yourself and your future. What books and articles are you reading? What podcasts are you listening to? What videos are you watching? This is the #1 way you are going to innovate, reinvent yourself and your business. You should be spending a minimum of 2 hours per day consuming valuable information.

How can you capitalize on this time and position yourself and company to be better for it?

*Related – Now on audio: The Relationship Economy

 2.     Short Video You Need To Watch & Share With Your Leadership Team

One positive thing coming out of this crisis are the numerous case studies in humanity. You have to check out the powerful video message Marriott’s President & CEO Arne Sorenson sent to all his associates. A great balance of transparency, authenticity, empathy and confidence. As a result of watching this video, all I can say is I am an even more loyal Marriott customer.

3.     Quote Of The Week

“I personally have found that I am at my best when my companies and I are being challenged or fighting for survival. In a strange way, I am actually comfortable with, and become more energized by the obstacles in our way. That is my nature. While the others are panicking and making short sighted decisions, my confidence level rises.”

—John R. DiJulius III

4.     My Gift To You

In case you missed it, here is the link to my webinar I did last week called “Leading in a Crisis”. It contains many great resources to share with your team.

About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.

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