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How to be a strong team leader in a time of crisis

Published: Thursday 14th January 2021

This pandemic has challenged businesses around the world to develop innovative ways of working. The changes, including having employees work from home in order to minimise the spread of the virus, are constant as well as the need for leadership and adaptation. For many executives, the coronavirus pandemic is a crisis unlike any other in recent times. Here are some practices to put into place and shine as a strong team leader in a time of crisis. 

A strong team leader seeks credible information to base decisions

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to determine the most reliable, up-to-date information from trustworthy news sources and ensure you avoid any biased ones. When leading through a crisis such as COVID-19, it’s essential to consult state and local health services, in order to stay up to date on rolling updates. Find advice on how to prepare further and take action in line with regulations. 

Use appropriate communication channels

professional Black woman in office with eyeglasses, folded arms and confident expression as other workers hold a meeting in background. strong team leader concept.

Once you gather the essential information and put a crisis management plan in place, communicate it to the entire company by every means possible. Transparency is key when leading through a crisis. Gathering relevant information is truly powerful as it can reduce emotional distress caused by the unknown, provide tactical guidance, and demonstrate to employees that their leaders are concerned, involved, knowledgeable, and on top of the situation. 

To communicate your plan, aim to use face-to-face first, whether in person or virtually. With a plethora of tools for hosting virtual meetings, quarantines don’t have to stand in the way of your group coming together face-to-face. Furthermore, strong team leaders ensure that key information is handled with the 3 Rs: review, repeat, reinforce. If information is shared only once, you shouldn’t assume everyone has received it. Repeating and reinforcing information on a daily basis and via multiple delivery methods helps it to sink in and be retained.

Explain what your organisation is doing about the crisis

During a crisis, time is compressed. The initial onset of a crisis presents immense pressure to act quickly. So, be proactive and take initiative. As you make decisions and take action when leading through a crisis, communicate those actions truthfully and honestly. As your response changes, keep employees updated with the 3 Rs. Remember that everyone observing or living through a crisis views it through a unique lens.

A strong team leader is present and available

Silhouette of a team on the mountain. Leadership Concept

During a crisis, leaders should be accessible. That’s why it’s crucial to let employees know how they can best reach you with status updates and questions. Particularly during a crisis, employees have a need to hear from their leaders frequently. When leaders appear calm, knowledgeable, and in charge, employees are likely to feel encouraged and confident that things are under control and will be fine.

Relationship management is key in times of a crisis

In times of crisis, it is essential for team managers to manage many relationships with many different people. They should be able to inspire those around them, give clear directions, and foster teamwork amid a crisis. Rather than losing patience and barking orders at employees, a team leader who possesses strong relationship management skills knows how to move people in the right direction while maintaining self-control.

Finally, believe in yourself! A strong team leader firmly believes in themselves, staying high-spirited even in the worst circumstances. With this belief, they can create a strong support system of people who believe in them. They know that when you lose faith in yourself, you cannot expect others to believe in you.

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