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‘When the going gets tough’

6 winning leadership qualities that will help you through times of crisis and beyond

When the going gets tough, the real leaders emerge. It is in the moments of crisis and times of uncertainty that leadership abilities are put to the test. The Covid-19 pandemic is easily one of the biggest crises we have faced in recent history. We will need every ounce of creativity, grit, improvisation, trust and ability to organize to make it through this. In this article we share 6 ways to stand your ground as a leader, during this crisis and in the times that follow:
  1. Build an Agile coalition to combat the crisis

Let go of the traditional ‘command and control’ lines and build a strong network of teams (tribes or squads) with as much distributed decision power as you (and your teams) can manage. Contrary to common believe, ‘command and control’ structures do not bring stability to your enterprise, and this is especially true in times of crisis. While it is already very difficult for a small group of senior executives to gather the required information and insight, making the right decisions or reacting fast enough is next to impossible. Instead, clearly communicate the new priorities as a leadership team and allow your teams to get to work and tackle their challenges autonomously.

  1. Don’t let your emotions take over

A crisis is always a tense and highly stressful period. The sheer mental, physical and psychological pressure can lead to irritation and emotional reactions. Sometimes throwing in the towel seems like an easier, more comfortable solution. True leaders show perseverance, they stick to their vision and continue to objectively, analytically assess their situation. Decisions are made rationally and are well-thought-out. Decisions are made quickly. And in those cases where it doesn’t turn out as anticipated, the true leader relies on his agility and is not afraid to admit the mistake and to change the course. Be open, be friendly but be clear.

  1. Remain positive to remain productive

Positive energy fuels productivity. When times are tough, it is easy to get caught up in the negativity that surrounds us. But you could choose to maintain a positive outlook. You always have a choice.

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  1. Manage expectations of the people around you

As soon as the crisis hits, people want to get out of it as soon as possible. As a leader, it is your job to face the situation and make an honest assessment of the scope of the challenge you are facing. You don’t want to run around raising the alarm, but you do need to convey the seriousness and potential impact of the situation to the people it affects. Let them know that it might take a while to weather the storm. Prepare them in any way you can for the long and difficult road that possibly lies ahead. Show them that you are strong and ready to fight this thing.

  1. Remember: It is not personal

Good leaders don’t take failure personally. It’s part of life. Not every decision you take, or every strategy you employ will work out like you intended. When that happens, it is easy to feel rejected, or take it as a personal failure in times when your people need you most. Don’t. Remind yourself that it is not about getting every single decision right. It is about making the best possible decision you can, and to keep going in the face of uncertainty and adversity. You cannot control every single outcome, but you can control how you react to it and what your next decision will be.

  1. Train your fearlessness

Fear is contagious. If you show fear, you will amplify that feeling in colleagues that are already afraid further exacerbating the situation. You simply cannot afford to project uncertainty, to project the inability to lead or show lack of confidence in how things will turn out. Ask yourself regularly: “What is the worst that can happen?” It helps you face reality and make plans for what is to come. Keep doing this. You’ll see that fear will fade to the background and confidence will emerge.

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