Being a leader is hard enough. Being a leader during a time of uncertainty is a whole different challenge. Last week webinar guru, Michael Gogan, led a discussion with 4 exceptional leaders and gathered their insights on what it looks like to lead during a time of instability. Gogan was joined by Derik, Paul, Paten, and Luke — all of whom are seen as significant leaders within their businesses and their industries.
While the times are uncertain and the future is unknown, it is important to change your mindset, empathize with your employees, and instill hope within your company culture. Many people associate uncertainty with anxiety. As Luke says, entrepreneurs are more comfortable with change, however, this ambiguity will affect more people than you realize. Understanding your employees and adapting to the altered change of pace is critical.
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These leaders had plenty of good advice, so be sure to watch the full webinar HERE. In the meantime, here are 7 tips for leaders.
What you know, communicate effectively
During a pandemic, you don’t have all the answers. But as the leader of your company, you have a responsibility to keep your employees in the loop of what you do know. Be open and honest about the company’s vision and goals during the time of uncertainty. It will go a long way. While things in the world feel disorganized and turbulent, ensure your employees that your company remains unwavering, even when you, their leader, don’t have all the answers. Derik says communication and accountability are crucial.
Focus on what is important
With all the change and chaos, information, news, updates, and deadlines can get muddled up and undistinguishable. But this is your time to hone in on what is important! Openly communicating goes hand-in-hand with focussing — be honest about the company’s priorities and setbacks. Inspire employees to contribute to projects that matter.
Instill a “business as usual” mindset
Paul believes there is no reason business should stop or slow. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, he has installed a “business as normal” mentality at Northwest Roofing and has found it exceedingly helpful. Although Paul has been out of the office for 2 weeks, Zoom meetings are keeping his company on track. Continuing business reiterates the purpose and value of each employee. Now, we understand many companies cannot continue to function during a mandatory lockdown, however, the “business as usual” can still apply. Focus on new marketing strategies, reevaluate and set new long term goals, call clients for feedback on past projects, etc.
“Be over the top with communication about the company — be open with all the good news” — Derik.
Understand that your reaction has ripple effects
“I have 50 employees with 50 families, then hundreds of roofers, hundreds of tradesmen” — Paul. That is to say, if the leadership team is overwhelmed and reacts out of fear, employees across the board will be impacted, creating a wave of insecurity and concern. Set the company tone and treat your employees like family.
Empathy is key
Put yourself in the homeowner’s shoes. “Homeowners probably don’t want you knocking on their door right now, but that doesn’t mean their roof isn’t going to leak or their HVAC system isn’t going to fail” — Paul. And as Paten states, think what does my consumer need? How can I fit into their day-to-day life? The goal is to be a genuine company that is consistently there for its customers — through thick and thin.
Ensure customers it is worth sticking around
Many companies are in scrabble mode. But to lead during a time of instability, you must focus on what lies ahead. Make it easy for your customers to stick around. If they are in a hard spot — help them out! Give them a coupon, push back payment deadlines, or create a webinar. Think of the long game — keep your company at the front of your customers’ mind and this time of uncertainty will have less of a negative impact.
Be willing to play the fool
When asked how to answer hard questions, Luke says to simply be open. Do more out in the open than behind closed doors. It can get overwhelming when you don’t have the answers, so “be open about the fact that you just don’t know,” says Luke. Be willing to play the fool. As Paul says, “we are all going through the same stuff. My pride and ego say I am alone, but that is just not true.” Derik recommends sitting down and making a list of all the constraints. Review the list and turn them into positive things. During times of uncertainty, understanding the restrictions of your business is vital. Knowing them is the first step to improving them.
In football, the best teams have the best coaches. Leading during times of uncertainty is the same. Being an efficient, inspiring, hopeful leader goes a long way when the industry is shaky. Pay attention to what is going on around you, commit to having a positive outlook, and invest when things are hard. Why? Because when the incertitude has lifted, your company will be thriving.
Thanks for the advice!
Derik Kline — Founder of Hailtrace. Loves weather and leadership.
Paul Reed — Co-owner of Northwest Roofing. Loves the Denver Broncos.
Pate Smith — Vice President of Marketing of McClenny, Moseley & Associates. Loves Alabama football.
Luke Hansen — Founder of CompanyCam. Loves the Clemson Tigers.