Learning to Lead During a Crisis
Great leaders guide their business from the front. So, when a crisis occurs, it's the leader who takes the biggest hit. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic fallout have wreaked havoc on countless businesses. Two-thirds of Australian businesses across different sectors reported a loss in revenue, cash flow and demand for their product or service. And while some businesses folded under the pressure, others survived (or thrived).
Below, we’ll explore how business leaders can respond to a crisis and navigate through uncertain times.
Crises don’t play by the rules. In fact, they rewrite them. During a crisis, if you don’t start playing by the new rules, you’re out.
To adapt to a crisis, a leader must:
- Acknowledge that something significant has happened
- Assess how it has impacted the business
- Acclimatise to the new environment the business is in
- Anticipate how it could change and what your needs might be.
By being adaptable, leaders aren’t constrained by processes and experiences. This reduces any friction in making the big decisions that need to be made. During the pandemic, many businesses with adaptable leaders made drastic changes - even to their business model - like how Spotify began focussing on producing original content (e.g., podcasts).
The bigger the crisis, the higher the saturation of information. While it’s crucial for leaders to seek out information, false or misleading data can have a dire effect on decisions made. That’s why leaders should focus on data that comes from credible sources or experts, or deals with documented facts. Business management courses, like the BSB51918 Diploma of Leadership and Management, provide detailed information on smart research and analysis.
It’s also important to keep an eye on what others are doing in your industry (both competitors and suppliers). If you notice a trend, identify its cause, then respond. Copying others, without knowing why they’re making decisions, can be dangerous.
Be There for Your Team
Let’s be honest, crises can be frightening for your employees. With so many changes going on, people wonder how they’ll be affected. It can be tough for leaders to guide others through these moments and provide answers to difficult questions. Sometimes, there might not even be an answer to give them. In that case, it’s OK to tell them there’s no answer yet. The most important thing is to be available, listen and respond.
Being open and authentic is a great way to engage others and support them. Transparent communication around how the business is navigating through the crisis can help build trust with employees. And when employees have a clearer idea of what’s going on (and what strategies are currently in place), they’re better able to focus on their role and be productive.
Business Management Courses
There are many skills leaders need to effectively navigate a crisis. Thankfully, they can be learned. Business management courses are there to help you develop the right skills. From managing teams to problem solving, you’ll gain insights into getting the most out of others, moving the business forward, and how to be resilient during a crisis.