During the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, a lot of companies had to face some of their worst fears. The world’s economy was completely shattered. They started losing clients who suffered great losses and were no longer able to run their businesses. Most companies also had to let go of some of their staff and learn how to manage their teams remotely. For a lot of managers, this was a quite painful experience. You could tell they felt uncomfortable letting go of the illusionary sense of control they had. Leaders thought their teams would fail to deliver as they used to, believing their productivity might drop.
However, the fast-paced companies that were flexible enough to make a transformation on an organizational level, involve their teams in creating solutions and were providing valuable content that was helping their clients pull themselves out of this crisis swamp, were seen as the new heroes in the business world. So, what tricks did they pool out of their sleeves to not only keep their customers but attract new ones? And last, but not least – how did they make sure their employees believe in this transformation? How did they make them stay, even when there were phenomenal risks that lied ahead?
Secret number 1: Embrace ambiguity
Effective leaders are not afraid to be forced to think and act outside of the box or behave in a way that feels alien to them. On the contrary, they embrace ambiguity and perceive the crisis as an opportunity to innovate and create solutions no one has ever thought before. They push the envelope and get out of the loop. Creative leaders don’t believe in putting their eggs in one basket. So, they involve their teams in generating multiple ways to help their clients.
Secret number 2: Put your teammates first
Make sure everyone in the team is aligned with what you are trying to do during the crisis. The ability to build on each other’s ideas is proof that the team is like a well-oiled machine. This is a perfect time to show your teammates that you believe in their strengths, to show them respect, and can help you build deeper personal and professional relationships with them. Looking for ways to help them in any situation they might feel stuck will show them you truly care. Be supportive and stay positive. Let team members know how they can best reach you when they are struggling with a task. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your clients, as Richard Branson famously suggested.
Secret number 3: Take calculated risks
Get better at asking the right kind of questions. Exploring the needs of your clients, especially when they feel disoriented and that they have no useful move, will give you an idea of how to search for new solutions that will give them a sense of comfort. Provide those clients with meaningful content, so they feel you give them more value than your competitors. You can also discuss with C-level executives what kind of resources can be invested in building a solution that will benefit both your clients and the company you are representing. This will give you a chance to take a risk, but you will have already done the research to support the need for this new product or service.
Secret number 4: Prioritize and stay focused
You will have the chance to work on meaningful projects, to generate creative ideas, and build cheap prototypes in order to validate your ideas with the clients, before launching innovative solutions. In a time of crisis, you have to think and act quickly. However, this may lead to losing focus and perspective. When in doubt, make sure you go back to your design brief and the objectives lied in it. Prioritize tasks. Put emphasis on the most feasible and executable ideas.
Secret number 5: Take care of your own needs
In order to be helpful to others and stay effective as a team leader, you will need to review your own needs and deal with our emotions. Explore new ways to stay creative and constantly think of the positive outcomes of your actions. Delegate secondary tasks to the people in the team you can rely on the most. Become comfortable with saying “No”, when you don’t believe an idea can make the company thrive.
If you need some personal or professional support on getting out of this crisis, check our 14-day transformational program “Be the designer of your life”. Find new ways to explore your creative potential with “Connect the dots”.