Before the Covid-19 pandemic, a crisis at home or work was individual and personal, it was not something the entire country was going through at the same time. Yet somehow we were all able to dig deep and manage, mostly because we had no other choice.
The family home quickly became your remote office, your child’s classroom and the recreation center. There was no time to plan for it on a professional or personal level, and almost overnight we were trying to figure out how to use Zoom, including how to rig an appropriate backdrop and master the mute function.
Whether you realize it or not, you were managing through a crisis. Change was forced on us fast and hit us hard. At times it may have felt like your survival skills were in overdrive, but as days turned into weeks, your ability to guide your family and assist your colleagues was providing a great foundation for crisis management.
Last year I wrote a column with my colleague Adrienne Elrod: How to handle yourself while handling a crisis. In February, we did a follow-up interview with “Morning Joe” co-host and Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski.
We discussed how you project yourself during a crisis is just as important as how you tackle the challenge at hand. Bottom line, people will follow your direction if you are measured, strike a balance and take control.
These attributes are just as important as they were in February, but we’ve had a unique view of crisis management during the coronavirus pandemic. Combining what we discussed in February, along with how we have navigated Covid-19, can teach us what effective, impactful leadership looks like going forward.
A few things to keep in mind: First, good communication is the bedrock for success in nearly every endeavor, and it is essential when managing a difficult situation at home or in the office.
Second, while it may feel like things are spiraling all around you, it is critical to be organized. Establishing order will not only help you stay focused; it will help your entire team stay on the same page. Third, remember that our work colleagues are also going through the same stressful time, and sometimes mistakes will be made.
During any challenge, if you can adapt you can thrive, but you will not be perfect. Work toward the best solution possible under the circumstances and remember this quote by pioneering chemist Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize: “Have no fear of perfection; you'll never reach it.”
A crisis is not a reflection on you, but how you tackle it is. Like all of your professional opportunities, managing a difficult situation is a unique chance to show the specific strengths of your professional skill set.
Throughout the COVID public health crisis, these leadership qualities have been lauded: taking responsibility, presenting the facts and being honest. When people are scared or concerned, they will act accordingly if you are straight with them.
Your team will be loyal and stand by you if you show them that you will shoulder the consequences of your actions, instead of passing along blame. Using data and facts will strengthen your presentation and display your knowledge of the subject matter. Lastly, respect your colleagues, family members and friends by speaking the truth. People will forgive you if you make a mistake, but they will never forget, or ever trust you again, when you lie to them.
In the end, it all comes down to reputation and credibility, make sure you always keep yours intact.