by Susan Hileman, NWIRC Strategic Business Advisor

“Fear never leads unless you feed it.” That quote was shared by John C Maxwell in a recent webinar series on leadership. It’s true. We’ve not ever been here before—in this kind of crisis. To minimize fear, effective business leaders must remain calm about the uncertainty surrounding us right now. They must confidently provide assurance to customers, vendors and employees that we will come through this. And they must continue to show support for each other in our workplaces, our neighborhoods and our homes—as real people, with genuine concerns for health and safety.

If you’re a leader struggling to maintain “normal” business, here are 5 suggestions:

  1. It’s okay to show people you’re also concerned about what’s going on but have a plan for moving forward. Most companies don’t have an emergency disaster or contingency plan, however this is a great time to develop one.
  2. Trust me, you’re not the only company who is struggling with (pick one…or more) cash flow, workforce, customer concerns, difficulty getting raw materials, keeping my doors open, etc. etc . There is currently state and federal loan funding for small businesses, along with a variety of organizations throughout the region who can help. So don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re unsure of the right organization to reach out to, don’t worry, we work together and will know who can help!
  3. You can’t over communicate. People are being inundated with information about COVID-19, but your employees really want to hear from you—the authentic you. Be real with your employees about the challenges you’re facing, acknowledge what you don’t know, but also share your plans to move forward. Let your employees know you believe in them and in their capability to get thru this and come out stronger on the other side as a TEAM. (Also, see #1 above).
  4. Remember you can have excellent products/services, but it’s your “people” who truly are your greatest asset. A lackluster team won’t help your products/services sell no matter how good they are—and a great team who really cares (and knows they are cared about!) can make your products/services even greater. Remember though, while it may not be work related, if employees are concerned about taking care of a child or elderly parent, know this is an important part of their life and will likely have an impact on their work.
  5. And lastly remember—this too, shall pass. Stay safe, be well.