Back in the 90s when I had an entertainment business I received a powerful lesson in how to be a strong leader. I was taught never run but walk quickly when there was a problem or crisis. It was during a large event of about 1000 people when one of the performers was standing behind a lit screen and everyone could see their shadow. Hardly a crisis I admit but one that gave me a valuable lesson in leadership. Seeing the shadow, I started running towards the stage to tell the performer move, when my producer at the time quietly said to me, ‘don’t run, walk quickly’. Running (or panicking) does three things.
- As you run you are in danger of tripping and causing more havoc.
- People will notice you running and assume something is up and panic results.
- Your decision-making process goes south as your knee-jerk reaction cuts in.
Good advice. Especially now.
As the impact of Coronavirus takes hold ask yourself if you or your leaders running or walking quickly? Not literally of course but metaphorically.
Strong Leaders are adaptive while staying the course
An attribute of strong leaders is adaptability. I like the way Jay A Conger (2004) puts it when he talks about ‘Chameleon Leadership’. The next 6 to 12 months will test the ability of businesses and their leaders to adapt to change and deal with the impact of the Corona crisis, while still maintaining course. That requires taking decisive action in a calm and non-emotional way. It requires good communication, so everyone knows what expect (well… as best as possible) and what steps have been put in place.
Strong leaders are consistent communicators
Your team needs to feel safe and certain that you as a leader are not panicking yet, at the same time, not deflecting a crisis. They need to know what the plan of action is, and they need to know that things could change at any moment. They also need to feel they have a say, that they are contributing, and they need to know that the little things they do, which to them may seem unimportant, will make a big difference. A strong leader addresses these.
If a leader runs, they will not just panic their staff and their clients, but they risk making bad decisions. As my manager, Simone Ashton’s partner put it (who is ex-defence force) ‘officers don’t run, it panics the troops’.
Find out about our coaching services.
You might also like Are great leaders superheroes not villains?