The COVID-19 crisis is like nothing we’ve seen before. For executives, the moment for leadership is here. Strong leadership can keep employees engaged, propel a company forward, and keep things on track. Poor leadership can be disastrous.
How businesses act (or fail to act) during crisis events often alter their fortunes for years.
A study by Bain & Company done after a recession revealed some sobering results: More than 20% of companies that were previously in the bottom quartile in their industries moved to the top quartile. More than 20% of companies considered “leadership companies” in the top quartile of financial performance moved to the bottom quartile.
Some top performers and poor performers swapped places because of the actions they took in a crisis.
If your business is slow, now is the perfect time to polish your executive leadership skills. If things are uncertain, you need it more than ever. Your team is counting on you to lead them through this crisis. Not every business will survive.
The Best Time to Get Executive Coaching
If you’re working from home, you’re likely set up for Zoom, Skype, or other types of video calls. You might have some downtime in your schedule. That combination makes it a perfect time to upskill.
You can’t afford to mentally take the time off right now. You need to use all your leadership skills during uncertain times and keep improving so you can hit the ground running when things open up again. You also can’t afford to sit back and wait for the economy to improve. Companies that made aggressive moves during past crises were the ones that improved results during the recession and maintained that momentum after things calmed down.
Motivating your team can be a struggle when people are working remotely, or during downtimes or slowdowns. Even top performers are sometimes finding it difficult to stay focused. Upskilling can help motivate and keep your business moving forward.
Six Leadership Challenges During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Neuroscientists say that the brain craves certainty. As we’ve learned during the coronavirus pandemic, things are anything but certain. This creates additional stress for you and your employees. It can significantly hurt productivity when people are worried about their future.
How do you attack that? Here are six leadership challenges that executive coaching can help you with as you navigate these uncertain times.
1. Have a Plan
There’s a principle in the workplace known as shared cognition. This states that the collective activity of individuals in work groups has an impact on the overall group’s ability to achieve. Stress and uncertainly disrupts this alignment as cognitions diverges.
Creating a well-defined plan can ease some of the stress and anxiety. Even if it’s not the best plan, just having a plan for people to rally around will work. Executive coaching can help you learn the skills to develop solid business plans and help your team move forward.
“Clarify and re-clarify goals and roles.” – Heidi Gardner, Ivan Matviak in Harvard Business Review
2. Inspire, Comfort, and Motivate
Leadership in a crisis means providing comfort to your team members. You must show compassion for what’s happening but continue to bring people together to meet company goals.
Balancing the needs of your employees with the needs of your company has always been a part of being a leader. Now, the delicate balance is even more important.
That means being honest about where things are, but showing them a pathway to success.
“The role of the leader is to define reality and give hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
3. Communicate Often
It can be difficult to communicate during downturns especially when you don’t feel you have anything important to say. It’s a mistake to shut down communication channels at this time.
You need to maintain that connection with your employees and highlight the positive steps you and your company are taking to help them through any crisis. Even if you can’t answer their questions, let them know you are working to get answers.
Transparency will be your friend. Admitting you don’t have all the answers doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. By the way, they already know you don’t have all the answers.
4. Be Present
This can be difficult to do when you are working from home or have your team spread out remotely. That’s exactly why it’s important to do. If you can’t physically be in front of people, use other tools. Call, Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, text, or email your colleagues, manager, and subordinates.
A study of 1,100 employees revealed that remote workers often feel disconnected from what’s going on. Without being able to take part in shared activities in the office, it’s easy for them to disconnect. Your team will appreciate it. 46% of remote workers surveyed said the best bosses were the ones that checked in with them frequently.
For those you report to, this is a time to maintain your contact and remind them you’re keeping things moving forward. Getting executive coaching during this time shows them how hard you’re working to stay strong and improve your skills.
5. Avoid Transference
While you need to be realistic with your team, you also need to stay positive.
That’s easier said than done right now. For many of us, we’re watching our revenue drop and worried about our business. It’s easy to get caught up in a “sphere of negativity” and begin to model it in our communication.
Psychologists call this pattern transference. During therapy, they want to make sure they aren’t internalising what they are hearing from their patients and let it impact the way they communicate. The same things can happen in business. Negative Feelings and expectations you hear from others can impact the way you feel and behave.
There’s no shortage of troubling news currently. Force yourself to put it aside and focus on positives. Even little wins right now are important.
6. Celebrate Success
There’s never been a more important time to celebrate successes. People are scared about their income, their job, and their health. They need positive reinforcement that things are going to be OK.
In many cases, you’re going to need to define new metrics for success. You won’t be able to judge them based on how hard they’re working – since you can’t see it in the office. You will be able to assess their work and work output as long as you’ve evolved your goals and been clear in your expectations.
“It is about accomplishment, not activity” – Donald Hatter in Forbes
How Executive Coaching Helps in a Crisis
Getting executive coaching during the coronavirus pandemic can help shore up your leadership skills and better guide your team. Your executive coach will serve as an objective, non-judgmental, advocate for you.
Even during a crisis, the basic role of a leader has not changed: Leaders set the vision for their business. Motivating employees to follow that vision and adopt it as their own is a skill that sets great leaders apart from the pack. Executive coaches help develop these skills.
They will help you see your path to success by asking objective questions and challenging your assumptions. They can help you develop your soft skills and motivational skills.
Executive coaching helps executives become more self-aware and grow as a leader.
An executive coach can help you define your goals even in uncertain times. By providing an objective voice, executive coaching can help you carve out an effective pathway to reach your goals and move forward.