by Monica Eaton-Cardone, Co-Founder and COO of Chargebacks911
The world is in a state of uncertainty. Cases of COVID-19 continue to spread and millions of people are experiencing upheaval in both their personal and professional lives. We’re in a period of rapid change, which can be a scary, confusing, and frustrating experience.
Now more than ever, people look to leaders to encourage and support them through the turmoil and confusion. Political and religious figures are expected to provide answers to heavy-handed questions, but business leaders have an important part to play, too.
As figures in positions of leadership, we understand how important it is to provide stability for our employees. It’s our job to help our teams to shoulder ongoing work responsibilities, and balance those against any unforeseen challenges they will face in the future.
The following four tips will help you guide your organization, prevent loss, and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.
1. Understand Your Limitations.
The COVID-19 outbreak stripped away our sense of control. This is a jarring realization, as our natural, human inclination is to maintain control wherever we can, no matter the cost.
It’s important to recognize that there are numerous external forces outside of your control. For example, you can’t influence the global spread of the virus, how long your team will need to operate remotely, or when you will be able to return to the office. There’s no denying that these are major concerns, and it’s okay to feel frustrated.
As a leader, though, the best thing that you can do is accept that you can’t do it all. Instead, try focusing on what you can control. You can coordinate your internal operations to play to your strengths, and leverage the power you have under the present circumstances.
2. Have a Good Attitude.
Make no mistake, all eyes will be on you. Your colleagues and employees will look to you to see how you handle each roadblock that you face personally, as well as on a corporate level. But, as Charles R. Swindoll put it, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% of how I react to it.”
Your employees will take their lead from you; thus, a negative attitude can affect the whole company. If you’re constantly complaining or spreading fear, this will trickle down and affect the entire organization. It’s your responsibility to take an optimistic approach, and to encourage your team to do the same.
Expect that there will be setbacks. But when you keep a positive attitude in the face of adversity, you reinforce your employees’ trust in you and in your ability to lead.
3. Put Your Employees First.
There are two words that come to mind when thinking about leadership during times of crisis: honesty and empathy. How you treat your employees will be remembered long after the pandemic is resolved. If handled poorly, this could irreparably damage your relationship with your employees.
It’s important that you see them as human beings first and employees second. Remember that they are dealing with their own unique challenges, especially in their personal lives. They have families and expenses to take care of, and overwhelming anxiety regarding the virus and its implications.
By putting your employees’ needs first, you acknowledge that their health and safety take precedence over their work. When they are reassured that you have their best interests at heart, and are willing to make sacrifices for their benefit, they will trust you to lead them through adversity. But remember: that trust must be earned.
4. Practice Adaptability.
To effectively lead through this time, you need to be willing to adjust your management style to meet the needs and preferences of those under you. This would be much easier if you have an adaptable business continuity plan in place. However, even without a solid plan, you can still act on that principle of adaptability, especially when it comes to staff.
This could mean being available outside of office hours to take calls, offering extensions on time sensitive assignments, or allowing employees time off to take care of personal matters. Employees will have numerous extenuating circumstances to consider, such as children being out of school and regular schedules being tossed out the window. It’s important that you are willing to meet them where they are.
Remember: leadership isn’t easy. It’s a demanding responsibility, and it can be a time-consuming one as well. Living up to that responsibility means making some sacrifices of your own, and being adaptable to do what needs to be done in any situation.
One Step at a Time.
If there’s one key takeaway here it should be this: while words of encouragement and reassurance are important, your actions will speak louder than words.
Being a leader isn’t easy under any circumstances, but times of crisis are when your abilities are really put to the test. It’s your responsibility to provide your employees with the tools they need to succeed, even during a time of fluctuation and uncertainty.
Leading through a crisis will take constant work and dedication. It will take putting the needs of others above your own and adjusting your management style to face unknown developments. Try to take it one day at a time, and remember that while you can’t do it all, you can always do your best.
Monica Eaton-Cardone is an international entrepreneur, speaker, and author. She possesses more than two decades of experience in the eCommerce space as both a merchant and service provider, and is one of the world’s leading experts on payments and consumer disputes. Monica is the Co-Founder and COO of Chargebacks911®, a global risk mitigation firm helping online merchants optimize their profitability through chargeback management. Chargebacks911 has more than 350 employees globally, with offices in North America and Europe.