Navigating through dynamic times as a leader: The COVID struggle

Since the first day of the lockdown, it became evident for businesses that new ideas are needed to fit an upcoming new normal. Globally, women and men had to rearrange their lives, businesses and homes in order to keep up with the unprecedented times the world is facing. Which makes sense! It doesn’t seem likely that we can soon continue business as usual.

Still, what can we as women leaders in this ever changing environment actually do?

Expect the unexpected

In March, when everything and everyone shut down and locked themselves in their homes, it was difficult to comprehend. We worked hard together (but apart) to build ourselves up again, and so we did!

In May we were finally able to enjoy sunshine, bars and our businesses. We wore our masks in the metro and used hand sanitizer when outside. All with the hopes of building a safe environment for ourselves and our businesses.

When July came we unfortunately took a few steps back. Again, we have to ensure to fit into another new normal, and slowly revert back to limiting our physical contacts as much as possible. Where does that leave us?

The only thing we can do as leaders is build a mindset of expecting the unexpected. This crisis’ dynamic mimics the way entrepreneurs often live even without a pandemic – constantly having to adapt and change course. And that is not a negative thing! We just need to shift our perspectives to seeing these difficulties as challenges we can embrace, rather than failures.

Plan A-Z

Knowing what we know now – that we don’t really know what and when stricter measures could be enforced, we need to prepare a set of plans which can ease our work in such scenarios. This is also linked to being adaptable when needed!

Here are some notions that you, as a leader, can ask yourself and start building your emergency plans in order to use unpredicted situations to your benefit:

  • If a new full lockdown happens, how can I continue working more efficiently than last time?
  • If cases keep rising, which additional measures should I put in place at my office to prevent a potential spread of the virus?
  • How can I help my customers & employees feel safe both mentally and physically?
  • Which further tools can I use to continuously engage my clients successfully online?
  • How can I motivate my employees during these uncertain times?

Important leadership qualities

While there are many in general, we want to focus on the three that are crucial with the COVID crisis.

  • Openness to communication

We all know that the key to any successful relationship is communication. And yes, we mean both personal relationships as well as business ones! Especially during these times, leaders must communicate more clearly than ever with customers, as well as with employees. Trust is the most important factor that can either make or break brand loyalty, internally and externally.

  • Empathy

Every human is a galaxy made up of their own unique emotions, capabilities, limits, worries and relationships. Even in more ‘normal’ times, people still process thousands of feelings and experiences in the span of just one day. With the pandemic and constant switching between offline and online, people need to process an entirely new combination of emotions.

That is why, as leaders, we should take our employee and customer’s frustrations with an even larger portion of understanding. Patience, communication and resilience through the lens of empathy is key!

  • Adaptability

A few weeks ago we already mentioned that being an adaptable leader is typically found in women. It is as relevant in this context as well! Being adaptable means being prepared to always expect the unexpected and create solutions, instead of simply reacting to the environment!

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