3 Tips for Leading Through Adversity, Pt. 2

In our previous blog post, we looked at the first two actions that we must all boldly take when leading through a crisis situation with confidence. Join us as this week we look at the third, and most important, action.

RESPOND WITH A PLAN

The third action is to take your findings from the previous stages, distill them down into a simple, clear plan of action, then run that through your executive team, your whole team, and then finally to your customers.

Michael Hyatt tells the story of General George B. McClellan, a general under Lincoln during the civil war:

He was the leader of all of the Union armies, but he was super slow to act. He just hesitated. He could never get around to finally pulling the trigger.

At one point, President Lincoln just said to him, “General McClellan, can I borrow your army for a while, because it doesn’t seem like you’re using them?” He ended up getting fired, and he ended up also not only losing his job, but it prolonged the war and cost the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, because he just couldn’t pull the trigger.

None of us will have all of the information that we need to make the perfect decision. So, we take the information that we do have, we mitigate our risks and find the opportunities afforded us, then we put a plan into action.

But how do we implement the plan? 

SUMMARIZE THE PLAN—SIMPLY

You need to get it out of your head and on paper. Use bullet points to make a series of talking points. This will help you get clarity on what you’re wanting to do because you can see in front of you what is necessary. 

VET THE PLAN

Once you have your ideas of what a plan should be and how to implement it, you need to your senior leadership team and see if they agree. We all tend to be myopic when it comes to our own thoughts and how they might be perceived by others. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” as the proverb says.

You need other people—your board, your business partner, your executive team—to help you see the strengths (bringing confidence) and shortcomings (keeping you from failing) in your plan. “They’re going to see risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities you wouldn’t necessarily see because they’re closer to the ground.”

COMMUNICATE THE PLAN TO YOUR EMPLOYEES

Finally, you need to take the plan that you (and your vetting team) put together and communicate it to your employees. Hyatt suggests that if you have a small, intimate team that knows each other well, it may be okay to do this step in written memo form. But for larger teams that are spread out, a video that lays out your plan may be best.

With regards to tone, you want to be authoritative, but you also what to be empathetic. Your goal should be to speak to the fears of your people (as you are the leader, the one who has more control over what happens).

You need to be confident and forthright. Your people don’t need to be hearing what they want to hear—they need the truth. If they think you are giving them a line, they will see past it and lose trust in you, resulting in lower morale and less productivity. Hyatt also suggests that you tell the people what’s not changing. If you don’t plan on laying people off, tell them that. You’re not promising that it might not happen down the road, but that as far as you know at the moment, that step won’t be necessary. That will bolster confidence and lead to a better work environment for all involved. 

COMMUNICATE THE PLAN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

That final step is to communicate the plan to your customers. You talk to your team first, as they will be the ones who will be serving your customers and you want them to be ready to help when the time comes. You want your employees “aligned around the same messaging, around the same strategies, so when the person who is on the front lines of your sales team or your customer support team or your marketing team is interacting directly with customers, they’re all singing from the same songbook.”

While this is certainly an unusual and trying time for everyone, you as a business owner and a leader have the tools, and the responsibility, to guide your team and your community through it with a plan that, in the end, will lead to great benefit for all of you. If there is any way that we here at Cowart Reese Sargent, CPAs can be of service to you and your team during these turbulent times, do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone or through our website. We look forward to creating value for you!

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Jun 3, 2020
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