Leadership in Trying Times — 5 Leadership Traits
- Author Mary Townsend
- Published July 19, 2020
- Word count 746
We have been talking about it for years, about the lack of planning and agility — and then comes Corona: a word soaked in trouble and on everyone's lips. Stockpiling and stock market crash. Have we really learned anything in the last few years, or do we just act as if we have? In this article, we will discuss what leaders should pay attention to now.
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- Attitude and Orientation but No Blind Actionism
As leaders, we have a duty to care for our employees. We are, therefore, asked to assess risks and evaluate them accordingly, and then act. Corona is one of those risks.
We have also informed our employees about the rules during the pandemic and reminded them of hygiene measures. First, however, we made clear our company's position: health before sales. Why? We want employees who think, decide, and think in our context.
That means that basic principles and orientation are required for self-reliant employees in this phase, but no lengthy guidelines or blanket prohibitions. Or do we not trust agile teams, after all?
- See What's Current but Don't Forget the Perspective
Scientists understand the virus better each day, and the development of COVID-19 is dynamic, as are the reactions and consequences. We are, therefore, asked to review and evaluate each day anew. At the moment, we are only feeling the here and now.
But we shouldn't forget other perspectives. Especially those that change with time. What is next? How will Summer and Autumn 2020 turn out? And regarding issues not related to the virus: what else touches our customers and our environment?
There are currently many major issues in the background. Starting with the question of the strategic direction of companies, digitization, etc. to social issues, such as climate change, right-wing terrorism, or global refugee movements. Here too, leadership is required to provide an attitude and orientation for everyone to notice.
- Leaders in Doubt — No (New) Time for Heroes
Modern leaders are often referred to as servant leaders. They work well as long as there are sufficiently clear framework conditions. But now a new level of uncertainty has risen and with it the risk of falling back into old behavior patterns. Employees call for decisions ("What should I do now?") Or managers who can (finally) demonstrate their strong leadership ("Here's the way!").
It may be tempting to give in to bad impulses due to the virus for a time, but in the long term, it is harmful. And it's okay not always to have all the solutions and decisions in your bag.
Even we are not free from it. At the moment, we are dealing with spacial issues. Should we do team meetings in person or online? The first impulse was: we, as managing directors, decide that the meeting takes place virtually. But what we did is let the employees decide.
- Corona and Beyond — Courage in Turbulent Times
We recently noticed a customer with a sign that was easily visible to everyone. It said: "Open to tolerance. Closed for exclusion." An attitude that we appreciate and in which the boundaries between what concerns us as private people and managers are blurred. When is it important as an entrepreneur to be visible? When is it okay to also address the issues that are not obvious but still concern us? To convey one's own inner contradiction to the outside world and to seek public discourse is courageous but also self-critical. There is no question: it is much easier to succumb to the corona depression!
Nevertheless, we decided to speak openly about self-critical questions — first privately, then professionally: "Are we talking about the right things?" And we have found that others are driven by similar thoughts. It is not about black and white logic, but about the open, honest examination of topics that concern us. At the same time, that also means that it is bearable that opinions are different and that there is not always a solution seen immediately. Incidentally, it is an important finding that protects us, both privately and professionally, from blind actionism.
- Show Your Attitude towards Important Issues
It is always worthwhile to deal with yourself and the world. Listen instead of talking over — act instead of reacting. Have the courage to ponder the inside out, to show an attitude towards what is important. Say what you feel, even if it's uncomfortable. That is what distinguishes us as people and as leaders. A noble goal indeed.
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