We are amid a storm. For most of us, it’s unlike anything we have ever encountered. The constant refrain we’ve been hearing is, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a leader.” And this is from men and women who are experienced leaders, individuals we admire personally and professionally! The storm is real, and it’s raging. Yet we cannot miss the opportunity to create a realm of calm (an “eye of the hurricane”) that will allow us to reflect on lessons learned to this point. We recommend a performance analysis that addresses three critical areas (communication, agility, and teamwork) and offer reflective questions below. Remember, most experts agree the storm isn’t over. If we search for learning opportunities today, we can navigate the next wave of the storm more effectively.
- Communication. Are we communicating in a timely manner about COVID-19 and its impact on our stakeholders? Are we communicating with all stakeholders (e.g., employees, Board members, clients/patients/individuals served, funding agencies)? Are our messages clear, concise, and repeatable? Are we using all available communication tools (e.g., social media, video messages, email, face-to-face dialogues)? Are our messages factual? Are we demonstrating empathy and caring, competence and expertise, honesty, and openness in our messages? Would our messages satisfy us if we were on the receiving end?
- Agility. Are we continuously seeking new information about COVID-19 from a variety of sources? Are we anticipating what may happen next and preparing a response? Are we encouraging decision-making that seeks clarity (80% right) and is timely (100% fast)? Are we outcome-focused (e.g., Ethos wants to support our leaders during this crisis)? Are we willing to adapt our strategies to meet that desired outcome even if we strongly prefer other approaches (e.g., Ethos is doing calls, video chats, and e-blasts rather than on-site, face-to-face meetings). Are we empowering our teams to be change-ready (e.g., creating intellectual understanding and emotional buy-in)?
- Teamwork. Are we using the right team at the right moment (e.g., core crisis team + key stakeholders to address specific needs such as communication, legal issues, strategy, etc.)? Are we relying on leadership competency rather than ego and title in our approach with colleagues and direct reports? Are we clear on the roles we are playing in this crisis (e.g., final decision-maker, content expert on health issues related to COVID-19, content expert on governmental mandates regarding COVID-19, etc.)? Are we following established policies/procedures for decision-making, communication, risk management, etc.? Are we setting the example we want other teams to follow by being calm, clear, and decisive? Are we relying on others to bear this burden rather than trying to carry it by ourselves? Are partnering with other organizations to meet global community needs?
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