At Our Best – Leading in Crisis

Bringing this idea back from the days of the early Pandemic … seeing this now through the lens of the current fear, uncertainty, and doubt – related to the economy – these three simple concepts are as applicable now as ever.

– Keith

Originally posted March 20, 2020

At Our Best in Crisis | The next few months promise to be trying times for most executive teams.  Restricted travel, cancelled meetings, disrupted supply chains and uncertain revenue.  This will generate much fear, uncertainty and doubt for employees, vendors and customers. This situation will test your cohesion, creativity and resilience as a team. 

Gather your team, by phone, and simply ask this question: “What would need to be true for us to be at our best as a team?”

Here are three simple things leaders should focus on: 

Rally the executive team and create clarity.  Ambiguity is the enemy. 

  • Be unequivocally clear about what we need to focus on and rally around.
  • Ask: What is most important, right now? 
  • Create a “COVID-19” Rally Cry to unify and focus the team.
    • Break the rally cry into 3-6 discreet buckets/sets of tasks (Defining Objectives.) 
    • Articulate what is always important (Standard Operating Objectives)
    • Review these weekly/daily with a simple “red, yellow or green” and rally the team around the reds.
  • Revise and review constantly. 

Be aggressive with your Meeting Cadence and Disciplines:

  • Change/Start the Daily Check-Ins. Getting info/updates is now really important – go ahead and lengthen them or add one at the end of the day too. 
  • Try a CEO’s Update Brief (CUB) to start the day… it may be a modified version of the Daily Check-In and the Weekly Tactical – but inquire about: What’s Changed, Who’s Sick, Who Needs Help across our people, customers, & vendors.
  • Use your remote meeting tools like never before.  Insist on video.
  • Consider setting up virtual “open channels” – an always-on virtual presence for physically absent executives.  A tablet or screen taking the place of a physically absent team member.  Allow for informal “drop by” communication.
  • Take advantage of less travel and open calendars to increase unstructured time together in conversation as an executive team.

Amp Up the Over-Communication

  • Cascade the Rally Cry an be clear about what you expect people to do 
  • Update constantly – What we know, what we don’t know, when the next update will be.
  • Update even if nothing has changed.  It’s comforting to your people.
  • Specifically, mine for rumors that can be debunked.
  • Keep people focused on what they can control… their actions and reactions.

Finally, love your people!  During times like these, people need to know that you care about them.  Take time to reach out personally to your direct reports and ask them how they are doing; if they know what is expected of them and how they will continue to add value during this season.

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