Crisis is an Opportunity for Leaders to Lead
The Coronavirus, COVID-19, is creating interesting — perhaps scary — times and a lot of uncertainty. I’m seeing it in everyone, both business owners and non business owners alike.
I’m seeing a pervasive fear and anxiety amongst our clients and the general populace.
There’s a lot of interesting sentiment around this virus right now. If you watch the news or if you’re on social media, you’re seeing constant negative coverage — and I think there’s a lot of merit to it. I don’t want to downplay this in any way and rest assured that we’re taking this seriously here at Crisp. Our entire team has been working remotely all week and that will continue going forward until we get a better sense of the situation.
What’s disturbing me, however, is that what I’ve been seeing is mostly raw fear.
I’m seeing a lot of reactiveness rather than proactiveness.
This entire situation is an incredible opportunity for leaders to lead. This is where you can actually do your job. But you can only lead properly if you’re leading from a position of clear and proactive action.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions like, “Mike, what do I do?”
Well, that depends. It depends on your situation and your circumstances. It could be different for every person.
But what is uniform for all leaders is that you’ve got to have calm and clarity. Calm is contagious. If you’re freaking out, then the people around you are certainly going to be freaking out as well. That then spreads to your team. This is not a good way to make decisions.
Alternatively, if you have clarity and calm, you can take a step back.
Over the weekend we saw things getting worse with Coronavirus, and we had to make the decision that we were going to take the entire company (over 65 people) remote. We had a long leadership call on Sunday, made that decision, and then on Monday we were fully remote. That was it. We had to figure it out and there was no other option.
We had to come with a plan. There was a whole day where we stopped everything, mapped everything out, laid out the various strategies, and then from there we said, “All right, where are there opportunities? How do we support our clients at a higher level?” Right now we’re stepping up our marketing, and we’re even closing on a new building next week.
I’m not going to BS you.
I’m not going to tell you guys to do it and then not do it myself.
If you don’t know what to do and you’re operating in a state of fear, you must step back.
Before you can lead anybody with calm and clarity, you’ve got to lead yourself.
What I mean by that is that you’ve got to make sure that you are sticking to your routines. That might be exercising, meditating, or journaling. Either way, take a step back and do those things and come up with a plan. It doesn’t even have to be the right plan, but you have to have a plan. That way, when you’re bringing that down to your team, you can operate from a position of calm and clarity and proactiveness.
We’ve maintained our rhythms here at Crisp. We still do our morning check-ins, and we added an afternoon check-in with the team. We’re all on Zoom, a hugely popular video-conferencing application. (Zoom didn’t cause the Coronavirus, though they’re definitely benefiting from it. So that’s a good stock right now.)
This situation will reveal how good of a leader you can be by making sure that you’re moving things forward within your organization. Rather than playing the victim, realize that everybody is affected by the virus. Everybody has been negatively impacted in some way. So instead of sinking into a purely negative state, focus on what you can control and how you can succeed in spite of the challenges that you’re faced with.
This is a chance to be creative and to innovate.
There are opportunities out there, but you can only approach them if you approach them from a calm, clear, and proactive perspective.
Don’t focus on what you can’t control. The only thing you can do with those factors is simply accept them.
We can’t control what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week or next month. But you can be creative and you can be strategic — and more importantly, you can have a plan.
I’ll share with you some of the things that we’re doing.
As I already mentioned, we took the entire company remote, but we didn’t stop there. We instituted new layers of accountability. This means each of the department team leaders does a morning huddle on Zoom and then we do a company-wide huddle with everyone. It looks like the intro to the Brady Bunch, with almost 70 people’s faces laid out in this grid.
We also implemented a tool called Commit to Three where every single member of our team submits their top three commitments for the day.
This is actually something we’ll continue to use even after all this is behind us.
Commit to Three is great in this situation since it’s an online platform. We’re able to keep track of it on a day-to-day basis.
And then we do an end of day wrap up as well.
All these little daily doses of action and accountability help us maintain the positive rhythms, keep things on track and keeps things organized.
We also dedicated a member of our team to oversee the entire transition to remote and to make sure that there was no dropoff or downtick.
While this is a time of uncertainty, it’s actually going to give some real insight into how good your team is.
So I’ve made it clear to my team that this is a time where we can come even closer together and truly adopt an all-hands-on-deck mentality.
There is potential upside to all of this, but first, you’ve got to get out of freak-out mode.
Right now you have to stop the bleeding if everything is bleeding out.
Remember that as a leader it is your responsibility to take care of your team, to take care of your family, to take care of your business, and to take care of your clients.
When I see people downsizing or laying people off — and I understand in some industries this is inevitable — that is a failure of leadership. I truly believe this.
And know that I’ve learned all this the hard way, and I’ve made countless mistakes. If everything is in a state of disarray after two weeks and one payroll cycle, perhaps it’s worth writing down, “What have I learned from this? And how do we need to operate moving forward to make sure that there’s stability and security for whatever happens to take place?”
The ultimate message here is this: calm is contagious.
Approach things with calm and clarity.
Whatever method you use to gain clarity and calmness, do it. Do some pushups, go for a run, journal, meditate — do whatever is necessary for you to come back with that clear mindset so you can address your team and make decisions in an optimal way.
There are going to be a lot of opportunities, and if you’re fostering those today and you’re setting yourself up for the future, then when things blow over you may find that this was one of the best things that could’ve happened.
Be sure that you’re supporting your team, your family, your clients, your community. This is a time to rally.
True leaders lead in times of struggle. That’s when people need a leader the most.
And if this is not for you and you feel like, “I don’t know what to do, I’m freaking out,” and you can’t gather yourself, perhaps it’s time to get your resume together. Perhaps it’s time for you to decide that you shouldn’t be a leader and you shouldn’t be running an organization.
Maybe you should be working for a leader.
But if that is not you, then it’s time to pick yourself up, get some calm, get some clarity, and get to work.
I want to know how you’re approaching the rapidly-changing situation. Text me at 404–531–7691 to share how you are leading your law firm right now.