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“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Marin Luther King, Jr. 

The world that encompasses us today, globally and nation-wide, carries a weight of uncertainty and fear for many employees. With uncertainty comes the need for answers, for guidance and support from surrounding leaders and colleagues – those who likely, may also be fearing the unknown.

There is no doubt you are busy, so we’ll make our message concise. I want to continue the conversation from last week when we discussed How to Gain Traction While Managing a Remote Team. Today, I am going to dive deeper into the role we play as leaders, the need to act consciously and the importance to only deliver the most effective decisions when navigating a crisis.

How can leaders work through finding a balance between being an empathetic role model and an objective decision-maker?

leadership during crisis

First and foremost, I want to stress that leaders can be those of any department or role, across any industry, and title. We must recognize the qualities that make us each a strong leader and use those as a catalyst for more collaborative outcomes. In a time like this, the impact of coming together far exceeds what any one of us can do alone.

We need to see the opportunity, despite internal uncertainties, and show adversity by empowering the capabilities we see in others. Act with empathy, but also with logic. Most importantly be concise during times of questions.

Acting on Empathy

leadership during covid-19

Jim Taylor, Ph.D. explains how crisis emotions are visceral in that we feel them in every cell of our being. As humans, our bodies have become equipped to combat challenges and threats with instant emotional reactions. For the sake of our own safety, this is often not a bad thing. However, when external factors and people are involved, this can sometimes lead to unintentional consequences when rational thoughts take a back seat to our first noticed emotion.

This does not mean emotion should be completely mitigated. Leaders must always put the people first – those internal and external to the organization. The outbreak of COVID-19 is unlike anything many in the current workforce have experienced and that should stay as a reminder throughout daily decisions.

Emotions should be used in efforts to display perseverance and confidence in the abilities of your team members. Trust is also critical, as we spoke about last week, and leading with transparent, authentic emotions will help build that sense of trust. Leaders should strive to motivate others by reigniting the passion and value of their work, why they matter.

Acting on Information

Just as crisis management is handled differently by everyone, so is information processing. For some, they look to the past to guide future steps. For others, they only move forward, taking each day as a new challenge and room for opportunity. For those in between, they stay focused on the present and what is manageable right now.

No one way is wrong, but choosing to stick with just one way can compromise the long-term success of your organization.

Throughout this unprecedented time, some leaders will find that instant decisions are inevitable. They may have to act more on their instinct and move forward accordingly. There will be moments, however, where there is time for assessment prior to action.

This is where strong leaders can capitalize.

While it is of value to not ignore the past lessons of decisions, both made and not made, leaders cannot get pigeonholed by the decisive matters that made up a different scenario. Bringing visibility to data can help businesses sort through the factors that correlated to certain outcomes of the past without being distracted by outliers or inferences.

They should not stop there. Effective leaders also use the current situation to forecast the foreseeable future, to calm others and deliver a measurable plan of action. Data can, and should be used to help with this too. The more information the better. Although overwhelming, crises are best understood when multiple perspectives are considered, because what seems to be the best course of action today may be different tomorrow.

Which brings us to the next point. Planning is great, but over-planning can be detrimental to your financial resources and time if efforts become counterintuitive. Leaders must learn to move forward proactively, but incrementally. Organizations can adapt, but they must do so by being conscious of the present. McKinsey calls it the “pause-assess-anticipate-act cycle.” They explain how leaders should remain open to new insights developing as day-to-day decisions go into effect; while also staying aware of necessary modifications to current measures in place. Goals should always remain achievable and flexible towards change, which is where a data visualization solution can help. Assessing matters in these ways allows leaders to anticipate and act without solely looking to the past or overestimating the future.

As an operational intelligence solution, our focus has always been centered on the power of data to inform and educate. Having a single-source-of-truth of all your concrete information can empower you as a leader – to be both the empathetic role model and the objective decision-maker.

Our team is here to support yours. Learn more about iDashboards and contact us today.

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Andrew Gissal Director of Client Success @iDashboards

Andrew Gissal manages the business development and enterprise sales teams at iDashboards. He is usually found assisting new client implementation strategies, current customer success tracks, and drinking way too much caffeine.

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