Coronavirus Creating a New Leadership Role

April 9, 2020
By Michael Copp, Executive Vice President

Napoleon once described a leader as “a dealer in hope.” I think, however, that people are the true dealers in hope who can often inspire leaders to show the way toward a vision. During this difficult time, I would suggest that leaders must now effectively lead a group of people through virtual synergistic efforts and create new and enriched processes for achieving excellence whilst making their lives more satisfying and meaningful despite being locked down and teleworking from home.  Winnie Hart (2020) noted in a recent article by Entrepreneurs’ Organization, 10 Steps to Effective Coronavirus Crisis Leadership, “During a crisis, leaders lead. In every crisis, there is opportunity for leaders to make something good when it seems impossible. Like firefighters rushing into a burning building, we have to make quick decisions because lives–and businesses–depend on it.” (Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 6, 2020 here). Hart (2020) lists 10 ways that leaders can lead during difficult times as presented by this pandemic:

  1. “Align expectations– Aligning expectations and realities takes skill, insight and patience, [and] the ability to admit you don’t have all the answers.
  2. All eyes are on you– Self-awareness is a critical capability that leaders must develop.
  3. Stay positive– Leaders radiate trust, hope and optimism that leads to positive energy, confidence and purpose.
  4. Tell the truth– Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. If you are confusing, you are losing.
  5. Know what you stand for– Leaders work from a place of purpose–a higher mission that motivates and inspires teams for action.
  6. Demonstrate empathy– Empathy isn’t about what you want–it’s about what the other person needs.
  7. See the big picture– You don’t know what you don’t know. Leaders must be comfortable with what they can’t see.
  8. Slow down and stay calm– Take care of yourself, mentally and physically, so that you can be fully present.
  9. Have a plan– We need leaders more than ever to communicate and gain consensus around a shared vision, which comes from the collective best thinking of the group. 
  10. Simply lead– Care and communicate in service of others [tenants of servant leadership].”

This latest process of synergy using video conferencing, email and social media heavily depends on a corporate culture of openness and trust, all of which start with the actions of the leader. John Maxwell noted that “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” If you have a moment, there is another article by Mark Nevins (2020) worth checking out called Leadership In The Time Of COVID-19 within which he lists a few suggestions you might find helpful.


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