Crises tend to bring out either the best or the worst in people. Some rise to the occasion, while others may flounder. Leaders are no exception. Their stamina is tested in difficult circumstances.

Giving someone a title does not automatically make them a leader – their performance does. When managers overcome challenges and lead their team to success, they exhibit true leadership qualities.

There is no doubt about it: strong leaders use times of crisis to transform companies. But how do they achieve this transformation during a pandemic or times of uncertainty?

Bridge the Gap Caused by Socially Distanced Teams 

Managing a team that is distributed due to the pandemic rather than by the company’s choice is an art. Leadership must take a number of factors into account including employees’ circumstances at home (for example, if they have children they must watch or entertain during the workday), the size of the team, the different skill levels of employees and their strengths or weaknesses (for example, some employees may struggle to master technology necessary for working remotely).

It is up to managers to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of team distribution. It is easy for shared values and collaboration to take a back seat in these unprecedented circumstances, especially when the world seems to change on a daily basis. Leaders must act as the glue that holds the team together and ensures that no employees slip through the cracks, so to speak. They must create organizational unity amid physical separation.

Communication Is Paramount 

When the human brain is left to reach a conclusion without factual information, its negative bias often concocts doomsday scenarios. So, when leadership fails to communicate with employees on a regular basis during a crisis, employees assume the worst. This can create an atmosphere of panic and resentment.

Instead, managers should establish and maintain an open, honest discourse to keep employees informed of the latest. While it is tempting for leadership to appear all-knowing and completely in control, letting down their guard a bit and showing their humanity will help them win employees’ trust. When people feel that others can empathize with them and understand their plight, they are more inclined to trust their decisions.

Managers should come up with ways to keep employees informed about the latest business updates and how the company is responding. Internal meetings are ideal because they allow employees to ask questions and voice their concerns. However, if meetings are not always possible, communicating via email will suffice. Additionally, managers should encourage members of their team to approach them with any questions or concerns they may have.

Make Employees Part of the Solution 

It is reflexive for leadership to take the reigns when it comes to formulating solutions to the problems caused by a crisis. However, by leaving employees out of the equation, managers can make employees feel disengaged and like they are not valued.

Making employees part of the solution, on the other hand, demonstrates that their contributions are valuable. Furthermore, since no one person or small group of people has all the answers, tapping into each employee’s area of strength greatly increases the likelihood of creating successful outcomes. Managers should make it known that everyone’s voice will be heard and then listen carefully to the ideas that are presented.

Times of crisis can be stressful and discouraging. However, by following these strategies and involving employees in the response, as well as keeping the lines of communication wide open, leaders will transform their business into a mighty force.

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Jim Bozzelli