Let’s face it – so far 2020 has been an unprecedented time of uncertainty. We’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic which has caused the world economy to be shut down while affecting millions of peoples’ health and costing people their lives. At the same time, we’re dealing with social unrest from the murder of George Floyd and the protests all over the country. Some of these protests have turned into riots and looting, causing major damage to businesses and communities all over the country. We went from an economy that was booming to the highest unemployment rate in our history. Whether you are leading a business, an organization, or even just yourself and your family, leading anything right now is a major challenge – and that’s an understatement! So, how can you lead effectively when there is so much uncertainty? Here are my top 10 tips for being a great leader during a crisis:
Tip #1 – Manage Your Emotional State
The most critical thing to being a great leader during uncertainty is to manage your emotional state. If you’re making decisions from a place of fear, you’re almost guaranteed to make bad decisions. You have to put yourself into a resourceful state of certainty, and then make decisions from that place. I always tell my clients that 80% of every result you create is based on your mindset, and 20% is based on your strategy.
So, how you do manage your emotional state? There are lots of different things you can do. Some people meditate, some people grab a quick workout, and others simply think of a challenging time from their past when they rose to the occasion and overcame the obstacle in front of them. However, you do it, getting into an empowering state is the first thing you have to do when you are leading through uncertainty.
Tip #2 – Ask Better Questions
Over the last couple of months, I have been coaching all sorts of leaders and business owners through some of the most trying times they’ve ever been through. One of the key things that’s helped empower them to make great decisions and turn a bad situation into a great situation was simply asking them better questions!
One of the best questions that I’ve been asking is, “What’s the opportunity?” This simple question has helped a number of my clients save their businesses and turn a dyer situation into an empowering one. It can help you refocus yourself too.
If you’re looking for a great resource on how to ask better questions, one of my favorite books on this topic is, “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life” by Marilee Adams. This great resource will help you take your question game to the next level. Believe me, it will be one of your favorite books too!
Tip #3 – Listen!
As a leadership coach, one of the things that I know will absolutely make you a better leader is to improve your listening skills. In fact, listening is the one leadership competency that improves every single other leadership competency that you have. This skill is often under utilized and is absolutely critical to tap into when you are leading through uncertainty.
Tip #4 – Anticipate What’s Coming Next
Great leaders anticipate what’s coming next and they have a plan for it. When you’re leading through a crisis, you have to be strategic with your actions, and really think a couple of steps ahead. Having multiple backup plans, and thinking three or four moves ahead is critical.
The key to mastering this skill is to create the space to do so. It’s hard to be creative and think strategically when you’re being bombarded with information from every direction. So, create an hour or two in your week where you close your door, shut everything off, and just have time to think things through. Additionally, having a great coach to work with you can help you master this skill as well.
Tip #5 – Make Fear Your Friend
Fear is your friend! It’s meant to protect you. So, if you are afraid of something, the best thing to do is to sit down and have a conversation with your fear. What is it afraid of? What is it telling you that you need to address? What would need to happen to assuage your fear, or at least minimize it? By making fear your friend and listening to what it’s telling you, you can create a solid plan to address what it’s trying to tell you.
Tip #6 – Leverage Your Team
Would you rather have one person trying to solve the problem, or multiple people trying to solve the problem? Sometimes as a leader we feel that we need to do everything ourselves. During times of uncertainty, the best thing that you can do is to tap into the knowledge of your team. Ultimately, you’re going to make the decision, but by listening to the viewpoints and insights of others, it’s going to help you make the right decision. Also, when you tap into your team, they’re going to respect you more for listening to them!
Tip #7 – Invest in Yourself
One of the best investments you can make in yourself as a leader is to get a great coach! A great coach can provide you with the tools, support, structure and accountability to become a better leader. Additionally, having someone on your side that can coach you through uncertain times and support you when you need that support is incredibly valuable. Most great leaders and people that generate outstanding results all have a coach, so don’t hesitate to make this investment in yourself, as it generate a massive return on your investment of time and money.
Tip #8 – Practice Extreme Self-Care
When you’re in crisis mode and there is a lot at stake, one of the most important things that you can do is to practice extreme self-care. What is extreme self-care? It’s taking care of yourself in an extreme way. Making sure that you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and keeping our stress levels as low as possible are super important during times of uncertainty. Getting a massage, taking a vacation, doing a dietary cleanse, or working with a personal trainer are all examples of practicing extreme self-care.
I always tell my clients, “Wherever you go, there you are!”, meaning that if you are on no sleep, massively stressed, and not on your game, that’s going to follow you wherever you are in your life. If you want to be able to play at the top of your game, practicing extreme self-care is non-negotiable!
Tip #9 – Realize That You Can’t Fail
I have a personal belief that “there’s no such thing as failure, only results”. Whatever result you generate either brings you closer to your outcome, or further away, and it serves you in some way. So, whatever happens you simply adjust your actions accordingly, and keep working towards your outcome.
This thought process removes fear from the equation, and helps you to take bold actions in spite of the uncertainty that you might be dealing with. This is incredibly helpful and will set you free from any stress or fear that you may have when the stakes are high.
Tip #10 – Practice Empathy
Great leaders have empathy, and this skill is even more important when there is a lot of uncertainty. The ability to understand what your team is going through and the feelings that they have during a crisis are incredibly important if you want to be effective. To make outstanding decisions and create great results as a leader, you have to be able to build rapport and influence others. The key to this starts with having empathy, not only for those you are leading, but also for yourself!
When you are leading during uncertain times, leveraging some or even all of these tips will help you be a better leader, make better decisions, and turn uncertainty into certainty for you and those you lead. Remember being a great leader isn’t easy! If it was, everyone would be one. Keep working at it, and leverage these tips to take your leadership skills to the next level!