Effective Leadership During Challenging Times
Great leaders follow a basic 3-step approach to success which I refer to as Plan, Implement, and Adjust. This simple recipe is the very foundation most great companies are built on. It begins with a leader who understands the concept of empowerment and building a leadership team of key people who are better at their particular expertise than the leader himself.
It begins with the planning process. The plan must be well-thought-out and include goals, specific deliverables, financial planning, tracking mechanisms, implementation guidelines, staffing requirements, marketing, and sales strategies, operation needs and needed support staff and systems.
Once the plan has full approval and buy-in of the team, great leaders empower those responsible for each piece of the plan to execute. Effective implementation includes a communication plan throughout the organization so all employees understand what is expected of them and what success looks like. Great leaders use the tracking mechanisms, deliverable deadlines, and frequent communication with the leadership team to monitor the success of the plan.
The most important part of this recipe is phase 3 — adjust. This is where most companies fail. Once the plan is in place and in the implementation phase, it is critically important for the leader to recognize when a part of the plan needs modification. This is what separates great leaders from the rest.
As mentioned earlier, great leaders empower their teams by providing the plan and tools they need to achieve the goals — then they get out of the way and pay careful attention to measurables. Leaders that “jump-in”, or micromanage, are doomed to failure. Once they get “in the weeds” they lose focus on the bigger picture. Even the best of plans will need slight redirection and modification. Great leaders recognize this early, make quick adjustments, and get the business back on track. Where most fail is ignoring the signs and blindly following the original plan without deviation.
Applying These Lessons of During COVID-19 Outbreak
So now the question is, how do you adjust during challenging times like these? During the planning process, the team considers all types of scenarios and how to plan to overcome them. When planning properly, the adjustment phase is usually slight modifications to get back on track. A global pandemic is likely not one of the obstacles that you included in your original plan. So now the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has completely derailed your plan. Simple adjustments are no longer possible.
Great leaders will follow these steps to survival. Yes, survival, as your goals and plans have changed to simply trying to survive this outbreak. As a leader, your number one responsibility is to make sure there is a company to lead when this is behind us.
Creating a New Plan for Challenging Times
- It starts with a new plan to save the company.
- Implement the plan quickly and confidently.
- You must make difficult decisions with staffing. This is not a popularity contest; your job is to lead.
- You must be the first to make sacrifices and concessions. It has never more important than now to lead by example.
- Instill confidence in your team by staying calm and confident.
- Communicate clearly and frequently with full transparency.
- New information and data are coming in so quickly that your plan may need adjustments daily.
- Plans are built to never have to be in a reactive mode. Nobody could have planned for this. Find a reliable source for information, follow it closely, and react accordingly. Understand how the stimulus package can help you and follow the necessary steps to get that help.
- Make sure you have your support systems in place, great leaders have mentors or consultants in which they can confide in and seek advice.
- Begin the planning process for what the company will look like when we get back to normal. Bring your leadership team back together and follow the recipe: Plan, Implement, Adjust.
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