Leadership during times of Crisis Leadership during times of Crisis
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“We are all leading through the fog” I heard a Pan-Africanist leader summarising what us leaders are currently going through across the globe. This resonated with me, in many ways.

To me, this pandemic has forced leaders to territories that they might not have dreamt of venturing if it wasn’t for the case of COVID-19.

“Leaders should have all the answers!” Says who? We need to bust this myth haraka sana! In such times, well as in most times, leadership is about facilitating good decision making. Such pandemic provides an opportunity for Leaders to harvest talent across the company/organisation (this has nothing to do with hierarchy) to help with the thinking and to come up with a practical and localised solution tailored made for the pressing specific challenges facing the organisation/company.

Panic should be the last thing the Leader should do; as a matter of fact, panic is never a good strategy! I cannot emphasise the importance of communication to teams. There is nothing like over-communicating. This goes hand in hand with transparency; yap, let them know your thinking and strategy on how to face the crisis and allow feedback that might challenge your thinking process as there might have been some blind spots that you didn’t think of. This will also instil confidence that their Leader is busy with the crisis proactively.

I’m a firm believer that Leaders always make decisions with good intent. Don’t get me wrong, they may be wrong decisions, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have good intention! Speaking of decisions, in such times, the worst thing a leader can do is delaying making a decision! Yes, make a decision, realise that it was a wrong decision, correct it, move on! We don’t learn from experience, but we learn from reflecting on the experience, so our wrong decisions provide us with an opportunity to reflect on them and make better ones. This is better than not making timely decisions.

If there is one time Leaders have to be flexible and adopt changes is definitely now! I mean if your fancy office is the best room to be a room for isolation, then be ready to give it away J

The higher you climb the career ladder, the lonelier it gets. During such times of crisis, it imperative to seek an audience with peers and to learn from each other. You might be in different industries or even countries, but you will be amazed by how common your challenges are. Even if you will not get solutions from them but just the thought of hearing another Leader describing your struggles and have a thinking process that you can resonate, it’s always encouraging.

It’s incredible how times of constraints drive innovation! All of a sudden people are forced to have innovating thinking (I’m not limiting to fancy technology here) for their survival. These are perks of crisis J.

Leaders should not forget to practise self-care; they literally need to find a mechanism step out of the pressure cooker as often as they can for their own sanity. This could be through exercising, sleeping (yes, enough sleep) or whatever their mind, body and soul fancy.

In times of crisis, people tend to think and have the empathy of themselves (as employees). This is very valid, and they should. But, as an ask, can they also empathise with the Leader and the company/organisation? Can they understand what their Leader is facing during these difficult times? Such times words of encouragement and even checking in with them will be appreciated.

So, yes, we are leading through the fog (an unknown territory) during this pandemic. As much as we have preparedness plans, every day we learn and discover new possibilities and I, like many other leaders, the impact of this pandemic will have a significant influence on how we will operate even beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

By Brenda Msangi 

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