A lot of great material has already been written on this topic. It’s current, it’s relevant, and we only have one chance do it well, before the moment passes us and people will decide how to label this period of time.
Leaders have a unique opportunity to help people write the narrative now for what this period in history will be known for. What do you want your employees to look back and say? What do you want your constituents to look back and say? What do you want your church people to look back and say?
Therefore, I thought I would add my 3 top thoughts on what I have tried to do in 3 different troubling events I have had to lead people through.
1. Communicate fast and clearly
In order for us to stay orientated, we need to know something of our map and compass. Communication gives people just that. When we know roughly what is going on we have our context, when we know broadly speaking how we are going to respond to it we have our map, and when we know the tone of our response to it we have our compass of values to take us through it.
So communicate! Even when you have little to say or haven’t yet made a decision on a certain course of action, communicate anyway and say you are yet to make a decision but will have more information soon … people need more not less communication in times like this.
Telling people something, a progress report, giving some timeframes of when something more will be known, or when a certain action will be taken gives us a confidence to keep moving.
Tone, of course, is always extremely important. If the situation is troubling don’t be playful. If the situation is serious, have a tone of strength in response to it. My next 2 points pretty much help undergird the tone with which communication should be given. But they are more than tone, they are values.
Your compass to people at any time of challenge are your values and the effective outworking of these. No challenge however difficult should cause a leader or an organisation to compromise its values – allow them to rise and guide. It is safety and confidence to the people we lead.
2. Keep vision very present
During a challenging season people obviously need added attention and empathy (next point). That doesn’t, however, mean leaders should dial down their voice of faith.
It is possible to be empathetic and hope-filled in your leadership at the same time. If anything it’s in times of crisis people desperately want to hear that things are going to be okay. Whilst we cannot make guarantees, we can bring hope. There is always a silver lining to be found in any situation. And God is able to work all things together for good, in His way, at His time, for His purpose. He is the master and re-writing the script of any crisis.
Even though we must be sensitive to the tragedies of death and financial pressures, people need strength and security, they need to hear God is working this for our good somehow.
Part of this is keeping vision present. Our vision is ‘hope on every street’ so during this season of online church we have kept talking about ‘getting the gospel onto every home in our city’ … people find hope and faith in vision.
A crisis is not the moment to let the vision drift from people’s minds. Of course it is not likely to be the primary thing we are talking about. But it should be evident and present. Why are we here? What do we exist for? We can still be answering this question for our staff and teams.
Keep hope alive.
3. Remember Love conquers all
Maybe this doesn’t need to be said, but I will say it anyway. Whilst there is faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love. In fact love really does conquer all things. It is a winning quality in every respect. Love comforts a grieving family member, and lets them know there is someone walking this with them. Love shows that there is someone who ‘sees’ them in their financial pressure.
Acts of kindness remind people of the beauty of humanity in the midst of the coldness of some of life’s circumstances. If there is any quality that helps carry people through a challenging period it is that of love.
Love enables people to keep smiling, even bringing humour into the midst of a challenging situation. That’s good, needed and healthy.
These last few months in our Church we have gone into overdrive to love on people – giving out food parcels, phone calls, cards, text messages, popcorn (yes even popcorn), surprise gifts and visits. Where there is love there is hope and safety. So this one could arguably be the most important of the these 3!
Your business maybe struggling but if you do all you can to save your staff first (where at all possible), you will have a team to be reckoned with for the future. If people know they came first, you will have won their hearts for the next era of doing life deeper, stronger and more successfully.
Leaders, you can lead well. My love goes out to every one of you, thank you for all that you do.