Leadership in an Environment that is Out of Your Control

Scheffey Marketing Team on ZoomEven the most composed leaders are dealing with some uncertainty on behalf of their organizations. Uncertainty can come in the form of concerns over the health and well-being of our teams or the unforeseen economic toll this pandemic will impose on many of us. It is certainly a difficult balancing act to be open and transparent in sharing your team’s concerns while displaying a strong positive view of your organization for when this crisis comes to an end.

I have to be transparent here. I knew becoming a business owner was not for the faint of heart, but really…a world pandemic in my first six months! My time as a business owner has been brief, but I have always imposed a sense of ownership to the businesses that entrusted me with important responsibilities throughout the many years of my career: this is just how I am wired. Through those years, I have learned quite a bit from good leaders, including those I know personally and others in the business world that I have come to respect. They handle themselves just a bit differently than most others in times of great challenges, such as 9/11 and the Great Recession. I have been leaning on some of those insights to help our team find calm when things are simply out of our control.

One of the first realizations that I think good leaders deal with is determining how much control they really have over the situation. Personally, I have struggled with thinking I have more control over situations than I really do, and COVID-19 has been the first challenge where I finally recognized that I was going to have no control over it from the beginning. But leaders, at all levels, need to ask themselves honestly what they have control over during COVID-19. I contend, they have control over a couple key areas that should not be overlooked:

  • Presenting a strong and realistic vision for after the challenge
  • Giving their teams the permission and flexibility to innovate during the challenge
  • Continual transparent communications with their teams
  • Extra attention to physical and emotional self-care

At Scheffey, our vision right now is to operate in such a way that we come out stronger on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this includes supporting our clients to do the same. At the onset, being stronger was being flexible and innovative to find solutions to make sure that there were few to no interruptions in Scheffey’s operations. After that, stronger looked like being flexible and ready to ramp up last-minute marketing and communication needs for some essential clients and being ready to supply some non-essential clients that are shut down with some much-needed insights for survival. We want to support all of our clients so they come out of this crisis strong and ready to engage with their customers. By having a solid marketing and communications plan for during and after the crisis, organizations will have the support needed to help jump-start our economy again.

I also believe that during a challenging time like this, it is the perfect opportunity to think differently and innovate for your business. For Scheffey, this opportunity came in the form of promoting our re-invented service offerings, a rapid shift in our communication strategy to “Strength on the other side” (see blog), and getting to those much-needed website updates to showcase recent work we have performed for clients. What have you done with your precious time during COVID-19 to make your business stronger?

With the entire team working from home, I knew it would be difficult to stay connected, even though every article on the internet was reminding us of this. I made sure to nudge the team, before we left our office on March 19th, that this would take some effort on everyone’s part to stay digitally connected in the weeks to come, and I knew I had to lead by example. Through weekly business status emails to weekly team virtual check-ins, collectively and individually, I attempt to stay connected with the team. If nothing else, it is an opportunity to just be there for them or to discuss whatever is needed (just a continuation of my open-door policy).

Everyone needs to take stock of their physical and emotional self-care. Despite all that is taking place around us that is out of our control, this is one area many of us may slack on in time of crisis, including me. But as I write, I can feel the energy a day of physical activity (a run with my daughter and kayak adventure with my wife) and a weekend of simply talking with my family can bring me back to life after a draining week. Imagine if you set time aside every day (of course completely in your control), how you would feel throughout the following days and weeks? What would you accomplish with that energy? It doesn’t really take that much effort; and how is it that many of us cannot seem to consistently do what we know makes us stronger when it is within our control? Let’s make a commitment to take stock of our time for physical and emotional well-being and lead by example.

At Scheffey, we are not only strategic marketing and communication professionals, but we are also deep thinkers about how everything impacts businesses and organizations like yours. If you want to experience the power of that thinking for yourself, let’s start a conversation!