It may not feel like it right now, but you are in a very special place. The words you say, the steps you take, and the decisions you make likely carry more weight and garner more attention now than at almost any other time in your career. The truth is when times are tough, uncertainty reins, and confusion is present, people crave leadership. They want to know what you think, what you will do, and that you are looking out for them.
What you do (or don’t do), how you make people feel, and how you communicate what is happening and what it means will be remembered long after this crisis has passed. The good news is that you do not have to be perfect. In fact, your willingness to try may be more important than your being perfect. Your willingness to admit mistakes and learn will be respected, especially over indecision or reluctance to accept and admit missteps.
As you contemplate your leadership positioning and focus in the coming weeks, keep these six actions in mind:
- Show that you care. Empathize with people and the circumstances in which they find themselves. Your words and actions will convey a message of credibility and respect, two important leadership traits during times like these.
- Practice openness and transparency. Doing so communicates confidence, in yourself and in those who depend on your leadership and whom you need to commit to the work ahead.
- Focus on what is most important and resist distractions and “shiny objects” that can pull you away from what is most important right now. This stance allows you to be most productive and signals to others in the organization what they need to do and how they can align their work to what is most important.
- Be ready and willing to delegate important work and responsibilities. The pressure you feel may fire an urge to do and decide everything. Yet, if you have been developing leadership skills and habits in those around you, this is the time to let them put into practice what they know and can do.
- Share credit and accept blame. When things work out, highlight the work of those involved. When things go wrong, accept responsibility on behalf of others and focus on making things right.
- Activate and rely on your support system. This is not the time to “go it alone.” Accepting support and advice is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of humility and commitment to learn. Just be sure to return the favor to others in your support system when they need your insights and expertise.