When you're leading through a crisis, there are a series of shockwaves that are going to hit you, your team and your business.
If you know what they are, and you have a model to think through their implications, then you can anticipate what's going to be happening and be ahead of the curve.
There are three phases that you'll need to be leading yourself and your team through. Watch the video below or read on to learn how to thrive in each phase.
Phase 1 Leadership: React
First of all, it's a phase of chaos and confusion.
It's when everything hits and you suddenly realise it's all going to be different. It's when people suddenly realise their safety is threatened or their business financial security is threatened.
There's chaos. There's confusion. Fear is kicking in, and there's adrenaline.
You're in high-energy survival mode: everybody is just looking at how they can stay safe and get through the imminent danger.
Here you react, you lead with protective action and immediate defensive moves to stabilise your health, your business, your financials and other urgent fixes.
As a leader, focus on action and lead with empathy - because people around you are going to be concerned and fearful. They’ll have tunnel vision - fight or flight - and they're likely to be focusing in on just the immediate tasks that need doing.
There's no real innovation or creativity, apart from the creativity of “how do we get out of this immediate danger”.
Lead with empathy, focus on action.
BONUS: Get the playbook for leading remote teams in challenging times.
Phase 2 Leadership: Reconfigure
After the react phase, we then move into what I call the reconfigure period.
This is marked by a certain energy drop - people realise this was not just a blip, but there is now a long term future that is emerging. And it's going to require quite some adaptation.
A frustration emerges because people feel they should be more productive and making things happen faster in this new world. And yet they've lost the energy and aren’t sure which way to move.
There's a lot of guilt. Am I doing enough?
In this phase, people will need to make a key decision:
Are we going to endure this and just put up with it and get through it? Or are we going to thrive and find the opportunities?
This phase, I call reconfigure, because it's about establishing what's important now.
Some things are no longer important. They can be set to one side. So it's about reconfiguring priorities, your own personal rhythms, your rhythms as a team.
This phase is where you need to simplify, to do fewer things better and focus on immediate problems and immediate opportunities and quick wins.
It's a moment where companies will really diverge, some will start to see a brighter future others will fade fast into irrelevance.
It's where, within companies, you'll start to see these leaders who are really being strategic and bold and the leaders who actually are falling behind in this new world.
In the reconfigure phase, lead by accepting the energy drop and guiding your team as their motivation flags - and helping them to simplify into the critical few “needle-moving” activities in this new world.
Phase 3 Leadership: Recommit
The third phase is marked by acceleration and overload as everything starts to come back… markets take off as demand comes back… financial transactions and M&A start to happen.
There'll be more opportunities and lots of things to take your focus.
Also, distractions will come back. You'll be perhaps back in the office more with more customers. And there'll be more drama, as suddenly people are jostling for position, for recognition. The “noise” that we perhaps left behind at the earlier phases, starts to come back.
So there is this, a new reality emerging and a new hope.
But there's a need to recommit because the new world is not going to be like the old world. And there's going to be a new requirement for energy, urgency and results.
This is where companies are going to be quite hard probably on employees, there might be plenty of people available on the market. Plenty of initiatives and things they want to drive. Companies are playing catch-up on their financial forecasts.
So, recommit to this new reality and to the energy that you're going to need. Help your team recommit. Focus on innovating, strategising, and scaling fast to catch the wave and to lead at that point with urgency and energy.
Leadership guidelines for each phase
So, in summary, there are three phases: react, reconfigure, and recommit.
If you understand this model, you'll start to see where you are, where your business is, and where your team and customers are on this journey - and how you can be the leader they need at each point.
Lead effectively through these phases
To learn specific leadership strategies and build your own action plan for these phases, join us for a 60 minute webinar on “Leading in challenging times (even when the adrenaline’s gone)” on Thursday 11 June at 5pm CET (Paris) / 4pm GMT (London) / 11am EDT (New York)
We’ll share powerful leadership insights and strategies to help you lead effectively through each phase. You’ll learn: