Believing in oneself is difficult in trying times. But beyond that, a true leader is one who plans strategically with the right people, consistently puts in effort, adhers to a perpetual feedback loop, and motivates their team at every step of the way.

Leadership in times of Crisis

By Saurabh Bhardwaj Business Leader, Taggd

November 1, 2021

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5 min read

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Introduction

Believing in oneself is difficult in trying times. But beyond that, a true leader is one who plans strategically with the right people, consistently puts in effort, adhers to a perpetual feedback loop, and motivates their team at every step of the way.

Most of the biggest and best companies have been built during the times of crisis No one wants or likes to fail, no one works towards and plans to fail, but failures are inevitable in any endeavour in life, individually and/or collectively.

Introduction

Litmus test of you as a Leader is how you conduct yourself, what you do when the chips are down, when everything is not going right, when there is recession and the business is tough to come by, when the board is on top of you and the team’s morale is down. It’s difficult to show an optimistic face when every indicator seems to be pointing otherwise, this is the toughest time for a leader (amongst others of course). This, however, is also the time to rethink norms. Most of the biggest and best companies have been built during the times of crisis (like wars, slowdowns etc.) It is a time to consolidate, to rethink status quos, to find and break new grounds, to experiment, to innovate! Here we will try to build a framework of what a leader needs to do when faced with such a situation (like now in a global slowdown).

PLAN!

– Form the right ‘Squad’: The trusted and a combination of right skilled team members who you would need as your think tank and execution leaders. They need to have in all transparency, knowledge of the current situation, this is a team of committed individuals and flag bearers of your division/company.. this need not be hierarchy driven, but task-at-hand driven. This is the team that brainstorms plans, builds execution strategies, helps build scenario plans and executes them in their respective teams.

– Identify, Plan: Access the extent of realistic damage the situation can make: make worst, best case scenarios and everything in between (may be use mind mapping tools, jot them, prepare post-its, whatever works best for you and your Squad). The best thing about risk is much of it can be managed if one is prepared and plans well. Most of the time the worst nightmares and worst fears are not realised, but it helps to be prepared for any scenario, it gives a lot of confidence when facing any uncertain situation.

– Make Gorilla Fight plans: There is always opportunities hidden in any crisis. The way to find them is by being agile, be prepared and ready when they come.. try and fail fast, keep searching (and when you find one: Squeeze the most out of it).. like an agile and hustling start-up. There is always a segment of customer waiting for our service or product, you can always repurpose your solution to fit in some segment, find them, plan and go after them. This is the best strategy that works if resources are limited.. In a crisis.. time is the costliest resource.. we are perennially running out of it!

HUSTLE!

Hustle: When you have thought through scenarios, have the right squad, you are ready to fight gorilla war! All you must then do is Hustle, Hustle and Hustle… This is the single most important thing in times of crisis.. Doors open, things start happening, they move. Momentum builds up and solutions come!

– Prioritise, Check, Monitor, analyse gaps, plug the leaks, route correct ‘FAST’: While, I don’t need to elaborate on anything mentioned here, what’s worth mentioning is this too is also only possible if you have an agile team, gorilla approach, courage to try and fail quickly, gumption to experiment, have several scenarios panned out already and are hustling! It is all connected!

LEAD!

– Motivate Copiously and Communicate Cautiously: While your close squad may remain resilient, many of the other team members in rest of the org may start feeling jittery, bad news spreads like wildfire. Motivating the team is one of the most important tasks of a leader especially in the times of crisis.. No one wants or likes to fail, no one works towards and plans to fail, but failures are inevitable in any endeavour in life, individually and/or collectively. Some people get overly affected by it, they start seeing dooms day out of every bad news that is out. This is a very dangerous thing, a bad disease which spreads very quickly in the team/any org. It’s important for a leader to keep motivating the team copiously, at the same time communicate cautiously… For example, there is no point in making the last quarter’s financial numbers live to the whole company when you know things are bad in red! Some people just can’t take it! At the same time it is so very important to keep motivating the team by applauding any good, small success you’ve had, any green shoots you see emerging, talk about the initiatives that have started bearing fruits, some good work by an individual, a good initiative etc. you get the drift!

– Lead by Example: Corporate and social situations are complex set ups, many colliding egos, perspectives, priorities, vested interests, politics. A leader needs to know how to navigate among this, prove him/herself, make sure that the team acknowledges this and accepts him/her as a leader, and then actually lead the team with all the aforementioned things happening simultaneously to collective success. That’s why being a good leader is so tough in today’s organizations.

BELIEVE!

– Believe, bring your Aura: You are a big cloud of consciousness walking down the alley, be aware of that. Everyone has an aura and one takes it wherever one goes. It’s like an invisible cloud around you mingling with others and affecting them (and you/yours as well).. You better have a good one and make sure others improve theirs! It’s a feeling world! Some people bring their own cheer, their own excitement and positive energy wherever they go… This however will only happen if you actually ‘BELIEVE’.. Not blind belief (like an ostrich who sticks its neck in the sand) but a belief that comes with thorough planning, flawless execution, hustle and agility! When that happens, you don’t need to fake a body language in the board room, with your team, at office, anywhere… You get that Aura Naturally!

 

By Saurabh Bhardwaj Business Leader, Taggd