While you may have emergency plans for your business in place, it’s pretty long odds you had anything prepped for a business disruption caused by a global pandemic.
Even in the best of times, being an effective leader is challenging — no doubt about it. For those of you who’ve had to put your business put on hold, and those who are preparing for it, it’s even harder.
With that in mind, this article from the Harvard Business Review, “Are You Leading Through the Crisis … or Managing the Response?” has some insights and inspiration you can use right now.
The authors have studied crisis management for almost 20 years, and say that crises are often over-managed but underled. They’ve put together four traps a leader might fall into during turbulent times.
1. Taking a Narrow View
Your brain is hard-wired to hyper-focus on only the threat. However, leaders need to be able to pull back and see the whole field — what’s happening right in front of you and all around you. Take a broad view, including near-term and long-term challenges.
2. Getting Seduced by Managing
Managing a crisis can give your adrenalin a boost and be thrilling. The authors liken it to your kids’ sugar high, though. That surge is followed by a crash. Instead, keep taking that long view, and anticipate what’s to come in the next week, the next month, even the rest of the year. You need to delegate, support, and trust your team as they also make tough decisions.
3. Overcentralizing the Response
In other words, you can’t control everything. Instead, seek order rather than control. Order means people know what’s expected of them and what they expect of others.
4. Forgetting the Human Factors
A crisis is a crisis precisely because it affects people — but that human factor too often can be eclipsed by numbers and spreadsheets and emergency measures.
Lead your team by helping them all understand how they can contribute — and recognizing that effort.