It didn’t take long for the world to turn upside down. In a span of just weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has brought life to a screeching halt, ushering in a frightening ‘new-normal’ driven by ‘social distancing,’ ‘self-quarantines,’ and ‘sheltering-in-place.’
Business owners have been hit especially hard. On top of the typical challenges, like increasing sales and out-hustling the competition, have been heaped more existential concerns, such as lay-offs, loan payments, and keeping the lights on.
It won’t be easy getting through this. But if yours is like the businesses we know, you’re rising up and fighting back with everything you have. For that, you’ve earned our admiration and respect.
Of course, we’re here to help your company in any way we can. Until then, allow us to suggest five ways to manage uncertainty and fear.
#1: Avoid destructive distractions. In today’s 24-hour news cycle, there’s no shortage of frenzied event-reporting. While you should be aware of things that could impact your business, overdoing it on negative news or social media will sap your energy and steal your focus. Right now, business leaders need plenty of both. While some anxiety keeps you sharp, too much can be distracting and, ultimately, counterproductive.
“Courage is knowing what not to fear.” Plato, Greek philosopher.
#2: Project humanity first. To employees, you’re a leader. To clients, you’re a resource. Suppliers call you ‘customer.’ With peers, you’ve been a friend. Thanks to the virus, you all now have one more thing in common: every day is stressful and every day’s a challenge. At work and at home (which for many is now the same place), people are managing the best way they know how. Some are maintaining, while others are not. Keep this in mind, as you do what you have to do. And whenever possible, look for ways to show compassion and be a real person, first and foremost.
“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each of us really is.” Fred Rogers, children’s television personality.
#3: Stay tethered to your team. This doesn’t mean riding vendors or micro-managing staff. But rather, establishing a framework for staying in touch with people. Even if you’re down to a skeleton crew, it’s vital that team members hear from you regularly, first to grasp your instructions and expectations, and second, to process your vision for rebound and recovery. It’s equally important to reach out and share updates with suppliers and customers. Whether it’s by telephone, email or videoconferencing, your positive, proactive leadership will help keep people energized, inspired and focused on your mutual success.
“The art of communication is the language of leadership." James Humes, presidential speechwriter.
#4: Add value wherever possible. There are reasons customers choose to buy from you instead of someone else, namely: they like you, they respect you, and they value what you offer. Even more important, they trust you, and believe you’re the best at meeting their current and future needs.
They demonstrate this confidence with every new and repeat order. Still, just like before the coronavirus, how you keep and nurture their hard-earned trust is completely up to you.
It’s an opportunity, really. Because today, more than ever, customers and prospects are hungry for solutions. They need innovation and new ideas, and anything else from your unique bag of tricks that helps them thrive, not simply survive. If you’re intentional about adding value now, people will remember it long after the pandemic has passed.
“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?”
Martin Luther King Jr., minister and civil rights activist.
#5: Lean on others when necessary. No business owner, regardless of background, training or experience, has gone through anything like today’s events. The only near-analog might be leading troops during a military conflict. Even then, few executives have managed strategy, people and resources on such a colossal scale. Most successful leaders, however, will acknowledge that victories on any battlefield are won through teamwork, and by relying on the informed opinions of those among their ranks. In other words, even effective leaders can’t and don’t know everything. This makes asking for and accepting help a necessary trait for anyone who wields authority.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy, US president.
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Owners are now navigating in uncharted waters. If you need guidance or advice, contact us today.
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