I learned that as the president of a company that was considered essential during the crisis.
5 min read
The opinions of the employees of You are personal.
- Take a step back.
- Be open
- Be flexible but disciplined.
March 11, 2020 is a day for the history books: “WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.” On that day, leaders around the world began scouring the pages of their crisis manuals (or creating them quickly) in a playful way to search for their pandemic. Shortly thereafter, the day came on March 16 when the markets collapsed, turning the crisis into an economic and health calamity.
Though we have burned ourselves into our minds with great shame, I believe days like these are true guides. Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr. would not be the leaders we will remember if the fiery trials had not forged their legacy. This applies not only to politicians and activists, but also to business leaders. As president of The UPS Store, a company seen as essential during the pandemic, I’ve seen what works (and what doesn’t) in a crisis, and how executives can turn a global pandemic into an opportunity themselves.
1. Take a step back
Photo: Tim Marshall via Unsplash
The fast pace and innovation of technology in today’s world has led us to think that quick decisions are good decisions. But we cannot overlook the wisdom to step back to analyze the bigger picture and remember what really matters, especially in times of uncertainty. Taking the time to slow down will give you an opportunity to spot opportunities that can accelerate your business. Don’t make the mistake of getting carried away by the crisis. Instead, drop the anchor and hold on to the storm.
2. Be open-minded
Tunnel vision is a dangerous threat to leadership in times of crisis. If you remain frozen in your mind and refuse to “give in to the way it’s always been done,” ships will sink. We saw how smartness and innovation kept so many small businesses alive that they learned how to serve their customers in alternative ways. See challenges as an opportunity to strengthen your processes and better respond to the current needs of your customers.
3. Be flexible but disciplined
It seems contradicting, doesn’t it? How can you lead flexibly and at the same time promote discipline? It’s a subtle yet harmonious balance that can result in a workforce that flows with great efficiency. For example, when the pandemic first broke out, everyone was panicked and confused at different levels. As a leader, it’s important to understand that not everyone is in the same place. Leading with empathy and understanding is a surefire step towards gaining the trust of your colleagues. This is essential to keep calm in times of crisis.
However, maintaining structure and discipline is still vital for a business, especially during an economic downturn. True discipline depends on the little things. Go the extra mile, bring an extra idea to the table, or think of an extra line out of the box. Advocating discipline starts at the top, so it’s important that leaders lead by example.
4. Express appreciation
While the pandemic is getting tired, executives mustn’t forget to appreciate customers, employees, colleagues and suppliers. Gaining time for gratitude in the midst of very tense emotions not only helps your mental and physical state, but also fosters a culture of gratitude around you. During this time, your employees have sacrificed a lot to keep your business alive. Remind them how valuable and valued their efforts are.
5. Remain resilient
Photo: Tim Marshall via Unsplash
It now seems clear that our world will see the effects of COVID-19 for much longer than we expected and expected. My advice to managers? Hold on tight and don’t let go. Be true to yourself as a leader and your company values, even when things take an unexpected turn. Resilience is a long road and can be contagious. True leaders are those who can dust themselves off, stay calm, and move on while inspiring others to do the same.
Regardless of the form, whether health-related, economic or natural, crises must be viewed as ovens. They can cause serious damage, but they can also refine, remove impurities, and create something more valuable than what they contain. The question is with the guides, will they let me wrap them up or refine them?