Tough times reveal true leaders. Never has that been clearer than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Customers are staying home. Businesses across America are shutting their doors. Layoffs are creating stress at the office and in the home. In the very first two months of the crisis, economic costs are expected to top $2 trillion.
Leaders don’t paper within the pain the result of a crisis; they work through it. In times of uncertainty, they help teams progress together.
The last time businesses faced an identical challenge was the 1918 flu pandemic. To know the way today’s leaders are navigating tough times, we reached out. Here’s what they told us:
1. Be there, both personally and professionally.
“We are all here for each other, personally and professionally. Our team has the uncanny and admirable ability to never be rattled and to always maintain the highest standards. We are extraordinarily lucky.”
— Daniel Ghazi, founder of DAG Tech
2. Focus on the vision, perhaps not the failure.
“The key to successful leadership while facing obstacles is perseverance. Leaders who are perseverant refuse to give up. They focus on the vision, not the failure. These individuals know that the greatest lessons are learned in the peaks, not the valleys. They look at failure as an opportunity to learn by constructing a gateway to future success.”
— Kami Zargari, broker at Triumph Property Management
3. Face the brutal facts.
“Leadership is confronting reality and facing the brutal facts. It is taking tough decisions and delivering the news yourself. It is trusting your team and helping them grow. It is painting a vision and showing the path to get there. It is fighting with all your heart and still enjoying life.”
— Eric Rozenberg, hospitality and tech entrepreneur
4. Unite and collaborate.
“What is necessary right now in terms of leadership is just a calm, centered, objective method of long-term goals. We should be driven by collaboration and unification — not isolation and independence.
We need to interact as teams like nothing you’ve seen prior. There hasn’t been an even more important time in the real history of our civilization to stand together as a typical people. United we stand, divided we fall.”
— Kerwin Rae, business strategist and entrepreneurship expert
5. Lead because they build leaders.
“Tough times are inevitable. How you react, change, and refine is what’s essential. Teaching your leaders to construct leaders would have been a key factor to your success.
At Proozy, our focus is on continuous growth and innovation. We encourage all of us to think away from box to produce creative solutions and to perhaps not shy from taking big risks.”
— Jeremy Segal, founder and CEO of Proozy
6. Focus on the people who depend on you.
“Regardless of what’s happening in the exterior world, I lead all of us to always focus on our clients because, in the finish, they rely on us. They trust us to be there for them.
As a leader, it’s my job to make sure we work harder than ever to offer Round’s customers access to opportunities that most people don’t have. Leadership and cohesion are crucial to persevering and correctly executing business operations.”
— Saul Cohen, founder and CEO of Round
7. Slow down and smell the numbers.
“Take a rest. Don’t overreact to what you hear. If you look back on bad situations, you’ll notice most of them began with plenty of bad information.
Pay attention to what’s conjecture and what are true facts. Ask yourself whether something is truth, opinion, or rhetoric. Go with the numbers because early reports are almost never right.”
— Todd Ehrlich, founder and CEO of FactorCloud
8. Determine, decide, and do.
“In uncertain times, leaders have to remember the three Ds: determine, decide, and do. Many folks are stuck in the ‘determine’ phase today, checking the news headlines every short while to try to determine what’s going on in the world. This is a distraction.
Instead, it’s crucial that you carve out a limited period of time to determine what’s changed after which move on to another step. Don’t ruminate on what’s already happened. Figure out if another plan of action is needed. If you need to alter, then you must determine what you’ll do differently.”
— Nir Eyal, composer of Hooked and Indistractable
9. Think and act quickly.
“A lot of our clients are sports equipment manufacturers, so having all of the key industry events canceled is forcing us to think and act quickly. The fans, audiences, and sports fanatics haven’t gone anywhere. In fact, they are more ‘tuned in’ than ever because they are stuck at home.”
— Rebecca Rosoff, co-founder and CEO of The KIMBA Group
10. Get comfortable with vexation.
“Good leadership in tough times requires you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you’ve been practicing moving out of your comfort zone for years, you should be in familiar territory. If not, the time to start practicing is now. When you witness yourself moving uncomfortably into the great unknown, a whole world of creative choice and possibility opens up.”
— Gia Storms, career transition coach and communications executive
There’s no roadmap to leading your business through this crisis. But if you browse around, you’ll view a lot of leaders charting a path through it. Settle on one which makes sense for the team, and stick to it.