It’s never easy to be a leader, even when business is booming. Remember when your phone didn’t stop ringing and your crews barely had time to clean their brushes between jobs? Your critical decision-making and guidance then led your team to maximum success.
Now, though, when your phone is eerily silent and your crews are near idle and anxious about everything from their next paycheck to their family’s well-being, your leadership and communication skills are more vital than ever.
Successful leadership starts with your tone. Reassuring, positive, caring — almost any communication should be delivered accordingly, and demonstrates that you are in control of the situation as much as possible, not the other way around. Your communication should come regularly, honestly, and purposefully. The things you say may be bad news or good news, but delivered appropriately can help you control both the message and the response. Remember that the courage and strength you demonstrate during times such as these can be passed on directly to your team members.
Here are a few more ideas on successful leadership in difficult times.
Feel the fear? Everybody does.
Jim Connolly is a blogger/marketing guru who sees crises— and the leaders they produce—in a unique light.
“Leading in a time of crisis isn’t easy,” writes Connolly in his blog, jimsmarketingblog.com. “Which is why your leadership is in massive demand. However, it becomes a lot easier when you accept that leaders, and those who choose not to lead, both feel the fear. It’s how they choose to respond to their fear that determines whether they step up and lead or step back and wait for someone else. So grab your cape, my friend…”
Have a plan — even if it’s useless
Dwight Eisenhower, the great American general and president, once said, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” In short, better planning and better preparation leave your team better equipped to deal with a reality today that is very different than yesterday’s, and the different reality that tomorrow may bring. So go ahead, plan, and prepare for the future, because this, too, shall pass. You’ll be better for it, even if the plan you made no longer applies.
Winnie Hart is an author, brand strategist and CEO. Inc.com recently asked her about effective leadership characteristics in a crisis, and this one struck home as one that might have particular application in a contractor-crew relationship.
“Listen to understand,” Hart writes. “Show people that you genuinely care by relating to their perspective. Recognize behaviors and respond to emotions. Remember: Empathy isn’t about what you want—it’s about what the other person needs. Your actions should benefit them.”
Stop waiting for “back to normal”
Yes, this, too, shall pass. Will you and your team be a better, more efficient, more profitable, more capable company in the “new normal” when it does? David Chism is another marketing expert who brings a background as a painting contractor as well. His advice? Use your downtime productively.
“NOW is the chance to either hunker down and hope the storm doesn’t get too bad or seize the opportunity to modify and improve your processes,” reads a post in his blog, adavidcreation.com. The post cites as an example ramping up virtual sales and estimation capabilities. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to get comfortable with conferencing and potential sales tools such as CompanyCam and Zoom.
“It’s all about your mindset now. Don’t think small, or just survival. This is your chance to adapt and thrive with changes that you can continue to perfect and implement.
“So, what are you going to do?”
Let’s close with one from the world of sports, particularly for those of us missing baseball these days. Babe Ruth had his flaws, but his gift for hitting massive home runs was unmatched in his time. He had a gift for common wisdom as well.
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up,” said the Babe.
For the sake of your team and the people you lead, be that person.