ExecuTips

Executips features the company executives’ take and practical tips on life’s common issues and problems

ACT of Leading During a Crisis

For many of us, the Covid 19 pandemic is a crisis that no one has ever experienced in this generation. Even our executives were placed in an extraordinary situation with an extraordinary demand. Many of us feared the uncertainty of the situation. During these difficult times, guidance from our leaders is needed and would be most appreciated by employees. In this article, our SVP for HRAD, Ms. Lea M. Wong, shares her tips on how to be an effective leader during a crisis.

I want to share a few insights from the readings, observations, and experience I have on the topic.

 It is very challenging to be a leader at this time of crisis.  Nobody has predicted that this pandemic will happen. There are no benchmark practices.  We are not trained to lead during an epidemic.  There simply are no management books that will teach us how to thrive during these times.  In the words of our CEO, Mr. Rod Franco, “This is not in the playbook.”

Each one of us, though, has leadership competencies.  You may be leading a team, a community, or a family, but the principles of how to be an effective leader at this time of crisis, are the same.  I call it the ACT of Leading During a Crisis”

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Agility, and as we define it in our company, is the ability to swiftly adapt to the changing situation, overcome obstacles, and deliver results.  Some will be in shock or fearful of the condition and may be in a daze waiting for others to move.  A true leader assesses the situation factually, moves to respond, and acts as fast as possible.  I saw many of our MPTC leaders demonstrate this behavior in the first few days of the community quarantine.  Traffic was down, employees were fearful, resources were limited, but time was of the essence.  Many of our leaders worked on each of the difficulties one by one, resolving the issues as fast as they could.

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Compassionate leadership is needed even during normal times, but more so during a crisis.  People tend to be more sensitive and vulnerable during crunch time.   How do we exhibit compassionate leadership?  First off, you must know and understand the situation of your people.  Reach out and listen.  A sincere “Kamusta ka?”, “Ano ang pakiramdam mo ngayon”, “ Ano ang sitwasyon mo?” will be highly appreciated by your people.  Understanding their needs and fears and empathizing with them will go a long way in building the trust of our co-employees.  Listen well, and do not be afraid to show your vulnerabilities.  Then, turn outward and help those who are in need.

It would be best if you are well yourself before you take care of others.  Ensure that you take good care of your physical and mental health, so you are well enough to take care of other people.  Caring for the well-being and supporting the needs of the people around you in difficult times can deepen your relationship with them and enable better collaboration in the future.

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Transparency.  Transparent and clear communication is essential in times of crisis.  Leaders should convey the realities as honestly and as humanly possible in a manner easily understood by people.  This will connect your employees to the truth and can spawn needed support for the business.  As you communicate what is going on, it is also essential to let your people know what you intend to do to overcome the difficulties and survive or thrive in the crisis.  There is nothing more frustrating than hearing gloomy news and no concrete plans to surmount them.   People need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and how you will lead them towards that light.  Hope can light the way, and people can direct their energy supporting your vision.

The skills mentioned in this article will be useful not only for our leaders but for all of us who can support the organization during this crisis, it will also help everyone prepare for the next yet another big challenge in the future.


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