How To Lead During a State of Emergency

How to lead during a state of emergency—depends on your point of view.

Glass half-empty view: The current pandemic has bombarded us all with more information than we can filter. Social media hysteria, conspiracy theories, and news updates—some legitimate; some “fake”— they leave our heads reeling and our hearts pounding. 

Fear is spreading so thickly you can cut it with a  knife. And when fear escalates it also paralyzes. According to this worldview, the answer to the question of how to lead during a state of emergency is probably “To heck with leading;  just try to keep the company from sinking!”

Glass half-full view: The national mandate to shelter-in-place has provided millions of us with solitude for self-reflection. At home, we have the luxury of hitting the remote and silencing the cacophony of voices spewing facts and stats at us 24/7.

According to this worldview, the answer to the question of how to lead during a state of emergency is probably “What a golden opportunity to embrace innovation!”

How to lead during a state of emergency—Dream big!

COVID19 is a complete game changer! If as a company, you try to hold your breath until it goes away, you’ll implode! Business-as-usual is almost a distant memory. 

But that can be a good thingif you’re open to it. The great American workplace is reinventing itself daily, which means we’re no longer trapped by the business protocols or traditions of the past! 

True, we are trapped in our homes, but again, that can be a good thingif you’re open to it. Getting used to the solitude can be daunting for those of us who can’t think without some kind of hustle-and-bustle around us. But if you embrace it, you may find yourself in the midst of some pretty constructive daydreams. 

“If only I could____.” How would you fill in that blank? Have you had a few ideas you’ve wanted to pitch to the higher-ups? Well now may be the time to polish them off and shoot them upline.

Remember how many times you yearned for a better work-life balance? Well voila here’s your chance as a leader, to give yourself and your staff the flexible hours you’ve dreamed of for ages.

Of course, the expression that “the grass is always greener,” is true, so neither you nor your staff should be surprised if it actually takes more time management skills and discipline now that you’re at home. 

Brainstorming vs. commiserating

Instead of holding online meetings during which you commiserate and pine for the good “old” days, use this time to brainstorm innovative ideas.

For example, your company has been successful up to now. Celebrate that fact and think about what did you did right and how you can keep on doing it? No doubt, there’s an app for that! And if there ain’t one, well create one! Dare to be great! Innovate!

Let your team go wild tossing ideas about! Provide the freedom to throw caution to the wind by empowering them to take risks. That is, make it safe for them to share ideas—even the wonky ones. And reward the failures! Yes, that’s right! Reward everyone who’s willing to risk the “stigma” of failure by congratulating them for thinking outside the box or even by reshaping the box!  

Regroup and reset for better team building

Way back in 2019 during the typical daily grind, your familiarity with each member of your team was probably project-deadline-driven. This is the perfect time to reassess your talent pool and identify some skills and talents that may not have been obvious in the board room.

A company-wide DiSC personality training campaign would be an ideal way to start. DiSC means Dominant, Influential, Steadfast, and Conscientious— the 4 basic personality types we all share in some measure.

DiSC training sessions are safe places to explore the inner workings of a person’s character without their feeling defensive, self-protective, or guarded.

The more people understand each other—what makes them behave the way they do; why they communicate the way they do—the easier it is to work with them. When you know what makes a person tick, you know what to expect from them—and what not to expect. 

How to lead during a state of emergencydon’t let the crisis define you.

One of the benefits of the DiSC personality profile training is that you’ll become more self-aware. You will recognize weaknesses and learn ways to strengthen them. But most importantly, you will begin to appreciate your strengths and how to maximize them when they’re needed most!

You were a great leader before COVID19 and you still are. Own that fact and enjoy the journey of discovering just how much greater you can be!