Leadership in a Time of Uncertainty

By Adam Witty

Leadership is not something you do to people…but something you do with people. Here are some ways to ensure you are leading—and not just managing in a time of crisis.

• Over-communicate: With remote work, this is more important now than ever. Use video communication like Zoom or Google Hangouts whenever possible. Be as clear and direct as you possibly can. I am making it a point to send at least three company-wide video messages each week: on Sunday night, mid-week on Wednesday and on Friday, wrapping up the week.

• Be transparent: Face the facts head on and don’t try and sugarcoat it. Most businesses will be negatively impacted by COVID-19. Some will need to reduce workforce hours, and some will have to temporarily lay off employees. Share with your team, in calm and rational terms, what impacts you expect the virus to have on your business and what the business is doing to try and mitigate those negative impacts.

• Maintain or enhance meeting and communication rhythms: We hold a weekly leadership team meeting called a Business Plan Review. Each department does the same. Every manager has a 1:1 with each direct report biweekly. We use a software tool called BPR360 to facilitate those meetings. Going back to the first point, communicate more, not less, in times of great uncertainty. In the absence of information, people tell themselves stories, and I can promise they are bad stories.

• Have a plan: Hopefully, you already have a strategic plan for your business that you are executing week in and week out. That plan will need to be adjusted as COVID-19 might make some pieces of your plan obsolete. Meet weekly (if not more often) to keep updating your plan with the new realities that exist. Then, make sure you are communicating the plan to your team. When employees know the leaders have a plan, it creates calm and confidence.

• Project calm: If the leader is nervous, anxious, fearful, worried or mad, followers will do the same. If your employees see you worried, they will begin to think it is all over. Have your plan, work your plan and get a good night’s sleep so you can come back in the morning and keep working it. I’m not suggesting you fake it. Let’s be real, the situation stinks. That said, we can’t control the situation we find ourselves in. However, we can control how we react to the situation. How we react will dictate our results.

Adam Witty is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks, which helps professionals become authorities in their fields through publishing and marketing. He is the author of seven books, and is also a speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. 

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.