The world is facing a crisis that has practically stopped everything. Well – almost everything has been put on hold. Except for essential workers, people are told to stay at home. Organizations that are deemed unnecessary are closed indefinitely. Most people will not earn a penny but will still have to spend on basic needs. Those that can continue to make a living from home are lucky indeed.
What leaders will do during this pandemic will be closely watched by employees and clients of every organization. For leaders, this is a time to shine – amid all the uncertainty the world faces today.
True leaders will care more about the people that work for them than for any financial loss their organization will suffer. Showing empathy is the key these days. With closures all across the world, employees will have to turn elsewhere for their financial needs. Not all organizations can advance salaries. Not everyone will receive unemployment benefits or government checks to tide them over.
Leaders must make an effort to explain to their employees why tough decisions have to be made, including having to let go of many, if not all. You might have already heard of some CEOs taking pay cuts or altogether forgoing their pay just to support daily wage earners. Although not all can afford to do the same, leaders should find ways to help their employees cope during these difficult times. The current situation calls for compassion and this should be the guiding principle for all leaders.
Now is the time to give back and leaders, despite any business loss, must prove that their organization is one with the community in fighting the effects of COVID 19. Offering delivery services, extending payment deadlines and assisting the elderly by buying for them their needs are some ways organizations can show they care for the community.
Leaders must explore ways they can be of service to others. Aside from continuing to communicate with employees, they can also send messages of encouragement or comfort to clients. Why not a simple list of “dos” and “don’ts” to prevent the spread of the virus?
Preparing for the Future
One thing’s for sure; there will be a new normal once COVID 19 is defeated. Until that time comes, leaders can plan and take steps to be prepared once the situation returns to “normal.” For one, they can continue to invest in their employees by providing online counseling and training. If possible, leaders can conduct virtual meetings on what operational adjustments need to be made to observe social distancing and personal hygiene in the workplace. Also, if less human contact would be the preferred norm, leaders can discuss with their employees how they can better serve clients in the future.
Great leaders will not only think of the here and now but also look forward to how their organization can thrive after COVID 19. The old adage “behind every dark cloud is a silver lining” should be everyone’s mantra these days. Leaders should explore what the silver lining is for their organization.
Crises test the mettle of leaders and it is obvious now who the great ones are. It’s not the ones who are first concerned with the bottom line. Great leaders are those who care about getting communities back on their feet when these crises are over.