For Leaders – In Challenging Times

Taking care of yourself |

Showing up as a leader

Taking care of yourself | Showing up as a leader

Lead with competence, care and humility

Be aware of what you know and do not know–seek support and advice. Don’t succumb to bravado. All the answers and solutions will not come from you. Seek to understand and listen–everyone has a different set of challenges and circumstances; do not use the same manner or rules for all. Be honest–share your fears and apprehensions. Say – I don’t know. Take and share tough decisions – do not delay them.

Be self-aware, be agile, be realistic

Reflect on how you are showing up. Are you helping, a source of support or adding to stress? Take the time to plan and review your day. Everyday change, recalibrate your plans and actions frequently. If you are not, then you may not be processing the new information coming your way.

Balance your personal and professional priorities

Your family, friends and the community need you. As do your teams and the organisation. Find the time for all. Be sensitive to the needs of your partner and family. Help them get through their work and responsibilities too. Working from home is tough on everyone.

Take care of your health and well-being

Make sure you exercise every day. Eat well and eat healthy to boost your immunity. Meditate, listen to music, dance…do whatever helps you to relax and revive your energy.


Your communication must be a lot about asking and listening

Make sure your calls and VCs are about asking questions and listening and not taking a lot of the airtime to talk. Encourage people to talk about how they are feeling, and their observations and ideas. Working and communicating remotely/virtually for days on end will be a new and trying experience for many.

Be positive but not overly optimistic

Encourage and motivate people to embrace their challenges and make things happen, but do not create a sense of false hope or being invincible. Be real – every day is a new day and brings new challenges and surprises. Rely on data and legitimate sources of information- make sure your conversations and opinions are underpinned by data and not guesstimates and hypotheses based on past beliefs. Make people aware of what is really happening using data.

Change the formats

This is no longer BAU. Your work calls and reviews need to feel and sound different. Create time and space for people to talk about personal and professional challenges, events and things they feel good about. Encourage people to check in on each other and how they are managing. Share updates across the group – stay connected. Give everyone a couple of mins on team calls and VCs to share how they are doing personally and professionally. Remember the corridor and watercooler conversations have to happen in a different way now.

Communicate more, communicate differently

You may not be the expert in this situation. Make sure you get the right people to address your teams on the right topics. Communicate frequently and share information on your ecosystem (employees, customers, partners, business, etc.). Make sure you cover the external ecosystem too.


New and temporary policies/guidelines

Create new short-term policies to help people to work remotely and safely – make quick decisions, be it about hiring laptops or sanitizing workplaces/transport where people still need to come to work. Offer career breaks, if people need it and have a reduced workload – especially if the situation is likely to go on for longer. Do not hesitate to ask people to take leave or take a pay cut if it will help to sustain the business and prevent rationalization in the longer run.

Involve your employees

For the greater good and sustainability of the business, people will be willing to extend themselves and bear hardships, ask for their help, ideas and commitment. People may be willing to take pay cuts to help everyone keep their jobs. If you are forced to let go of some people, you may be able to set up a group to help them find jobs and manage their challenges. Ideate and find opportunities. In all this, there will be ways to grow and succeed – bring everyone in. Help them to help the business.

Support the team and people managers

A large part of your workforce is managed by supervisors, team leaders, front-line managers. Make sure you are spending time in a structured manner with them (get HR to attend these calls) – to understand their issues and helping them in a useful and effective way. Get HR to do a pulse check with teams on how well they are being supported by their supervisors remotely. Effective supervisors may not be so effective anymore and the not-so-effective ones may surprise you!

Make sure you appreciate and recognize effort, commitment and results

As a leader find ways to do this and commit time and resources to this. Get HR to create ways in which you can do this. Be democratic (not just top-down) about it, use apps.


Talk to a few customers every day

Talk to your customers to understand what is changing for them and what is not. Your teams must see you doing this. Find ways in which you can help and support them understand what is happening in the communities around them.

Keep the teams connected and engaged with customers

Make sure your teams are talking to their internal and external customers every day – to check on how they can help and support them differently. Give customer- facing teams scripts to share information on what the company is doing/taking care of customer interests/positive news. Make sure you update these frequently- create a list of FAQs that your customers are likely to ask your teams and managers for those of you with B2B clients – see how you can help their businesses in a realistic manner. Make sure your teams are spending time listening to them.

Redefine and communicate what customer-centricity means

For each business, being customer-centric at this time could mean different things – keeping the employee and customers safe; taking the time to offer extraordinary support to the customers; sharing the losses; diagnosing their world and business and giving them solutions, giving them access to your resources and expertise. Recognise and reward customer-centric behaviours – this is crucial to ensure that the focus is not only on the business surviving these difficult times, but helping the customer to do so as well! Censure behaviours that lead to business success at the cost of internal and external customers.

Partners | Vendors

Establish exec connects with the owners / promoters / CEOs of your large partners and vendor organisations

Take the time to connect and listen. Be realistic about what you can do to help and support them and how they can do the same for you. Keep in touch and designate people in your team who will be available for them – at these times what you don’t want are unanswered mails and calls.

Look out for the interests of their employees

In areas such as housekeeping, transport, canteen, etc. their employees are likely to be severely impacted. There is a family behind each such employee or contractor that lives on a very low level of wages each month. Think about how you can help and support them through the decisions and actions you take. Use some of your CSR funds for preventive and healthcare projects for some of these people or their communities.

Lead through the crisis | Stay safe