• Mar 23 2020

7 Tips to Lead Your Team Through Crisis

There is no playbook with all the answers for how to respond to today’s rapidly evolving events. However, there are steps you can take today to not only navigate these new leadership challenges but come out better prepared the next time a crisis arises.

ExecOnline teamed up with Strategy Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Award-Winning Author, Dorie Clark, to bring you cutting edge insights and practical tools to help empower your leaders to engage and lead their teams in a moment of great uncertainty.

  1. Learn from crisis and uncertainty – During a crisis, you are forced to make decisions with imperfect information. One way to become a better decision-maker is to document the choices you are currently making and your rationale behind each one. Revisit your decisions 3, 6, and even 12 months later and ask yourself: Are there areas where I could improve? Where could my team have done better in these moments? What are some best practices I can take away from the crisis? How can my team retain our top skills and use them later on? 
  2. Monitor the signals – As leaders, you want to tell your team everything will all be ok. Unfortunately, you can’t promise anything during a time of great uncertainty. So what can you do? Identify and share valuable information sources that you know contain true facts. Seize the opportunity to contribute to the conversation and distinguish yourself by the information you are sharing. Your team will be able to relax a bit knowing that their leader is well-informed and you are sharing valuable resources with them. 
  3. Remain agile and question your assumptions – Respond with agility by thinking like a scientist. What does this mean? It means you believe that things will turn out one way, but you wait and see what actually happens. One way to do this is to think to yourself, “It’s probable that this will happen, but what else could happen?” Changing your thought process allows you to maximize the number of opportunities available to you. 
  4. Build team cohesion during challenging times – Great leaders bring their teams closer in the face of uncertainty. They ask: What is not changing and in my control? What are we trying to accomplish as an organization and as a department? How does our team fit into the mission of the company? Emphasize your team values and share success stories with your team about times you did great work to remind them that they can do it again! 
  5. Manage your team’s anxiety – Additional attention is needed to manage your team’s emotional journey. Things are moving very rapidly, and anxiety levels can be high. Meet your team where they are at emotionally and amplify the positive emotions. If you see positive behavior, make sure to call that out so people know they are being seen and appreciated. You can also build trust with your team by being clear and honest. Acknowledge that you don’t know all the answers, but you are on their side and will share what you know.
  6. Balance new challenges with your team’s existing workload – In the short term, help your team adjust to the new situation. You can do this in 3 ways: 1) Informationally – tell them what you do and do not know. 2) Emotionally – allow them to express concerns and feel heard. 3) Technologically – ensure they have everything they need so they are up to speed on their regular responsibilities. In the long term, connect with your boss on what targets absolutely must be hit. Things are moving very quickly, so make sure you know what are the things least likely to change, and your team can prioritize these tasks.
  7. Create a leadership action plan for your team –  Creating a leadership action plan for your team and your department is very important. Despite what you may have heard, you can prepare for a crisis. Don’t be caught flat-footed and take this time to set plans for your team! Ask yourself: How do you cover for people if they are sick? How do you maintain productivity in times of need? If you take the time to do this with your team, you will be better prepared for crisis and set up for success.

These are just a few of the topics that Dorie will cover in her new 3-week program with ExecOnline, Managing Uncertainty Virtually. Be sure to check out our resource center where you can download a program overview, watch Dorie’s full webinar on-demand, and enroll your leaders in this one of a kind program that is responding to today’s pandemic and giving your leaders the skills they need today, tomorrow, and beyond.

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