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Effective Leadership During a Crisis

First in a series of three leadership articles

We asked our clients: What are you doing to lead effectively during this crisis? Here’s what they said.

  By Trisha D. Scudder, Founder, & Herma Schmitz, Principal
Executive Coaching Group


As we’ve coached and consulted senior leaders over the past month, we’ve asked them what they are doing to keep their employees (and themselves) productive, deal with the financial impact and plan for the future.

Here is what they reported has helped in this challenging time:

STRAIGHT TALK. People can handle the truth. It’s the uncertainty or the suspicion that the truth is being withheld that causes the most stress. Several clients reported that, although difficult for them, talking straight without sugar coating the business situation has been well received. People felt included and took ownership.

FOCUS ON FACTS. Clients emphasized the need to ground themselves in the facts of their situation and fight off the fear-based interpretations that seem daunting at 3 a.m. With their management teams they are laying out the facts and creating “what if” projections, including worst case scenarios, then making decisions one step at a time.

SPREAD THE PAIN. Yes, some report layoffs. But others are cutting pay across the board to prevent layoffs. Some partners and CEOs aren’t taking a salary for now. Others are putting some employees on 3-month furlough with paid health insurance. Others are canceling bonuses in 2020 so that more employees can be retained. We’ve also heard of retailers promoting gift cards with 20% going to pay employees.

YOUR PEOPLE NEED STRUCTURE. Is it Tuesday? Working from home without familiar routines, one day can blend into another without much accomplished. Create structure for your direct reports and teams by keeping the weekly meetings they are used to and perhaps adding more. Structure is important to your peoples’ morale and productivity.

BE GRATEFUL. Our clients are primarily business owners and business leaders in finance, tech and marketing. Many have reported they are newly grateful for the family, financial cushion and good health they enjoy. They are even finding joy in simple things like a run outside, Spring, a hug, an empathetic conversation. This gratefulness gives them peace, patience and energy to give to others.

For more information on our leadership coaching programs, please contact Trisha D. Scudder, tscudder@executivecoachgroup.com or Herma Schmitz, hschmitz@executivecoachgroup.com or call 212-245-2871.
When Leaders Grow, Companies Grow

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