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I heard a statement today that caused me pause. There is going to be a before and after COVID-19 much like there was a before and after 9-11. It made me think of the graphic making it’s rounds on social media – “Who do I want to be during COVID-19?”
While this is focused on individual behaviors, I saw many correlations to the behaviors I was experiencing and witnessing. I have been bombarded with angry and emotional messages from sources I would not have expected. Businesses are scrambling to grab a piece of the PPP pie to the extent they are overwhelming the resources there to help them. People are blanketing each other with every new piece of information without stopping to think about how to help each other understand what is important and useful. Businesses are reacting to the current crisis without being thoughtful to the “after”. I understand. It’s scary and I believe that how we deal with this crisis now will greatly influence the “after”.
How Do I Want to Show Up in My Business During COVID-19?
I shared my early thoughts with Laurie White of Krescent Marketing and Jim Plymale, Chair of a Vistage peer advisory group in Portland, and asked them to collaborate on developing a view for business leaders. Together we created – “How do I want to show-up in my business in COVID-19?” We coined the terms Hiding, Surviving and Thriving to describe the stages of progression for business leaders. We believe, as business leaders, we can and need to start moving from hiding, to and through surviving, to thriving.
In the early stage of the crisis many business leaders are simply hiding. They are anxious and overwhelmed and focused on reactive, short-term actions – reducing staff, tightening customer credit, cutting service levels, eliminating investments – often without a plan. They are primarily focusing on themselves and “saving their business”, withholding vital information needed for decision making or communicating in a manner that doesn’t show empathy for employees, clients or peers. They are lacking strong leadership when it is needed more than ever.
To lead from the surviving zone, instead of hiding, we can show-up as pragmatic, caring and values-driven. We can focus on what we can control, take the time to understand the threats to our business and be thoughtful about the moves we make to protect our businesses, teams and customers. We can communicate proactively and with an urgency that demonstrates great care for our teams and customers. We can help each other navigate these uncertain times by not adding to the noise created by just forwarding and resharing information and instead taking to time to offer our thoughts and understanding to help others make the best possible decisions. We can take this time to build trust by relying on our core values to guide us.
More importantly, we can show-up as courageous, vulnerable and visionary. We can embrace the “new normal”, look around the corner and chart an envisioned future for our organization. We can involve and mobilize the talents of our teams to support our new reality. We can look for and seize the opportunities that present themselves in every crisis, offer our best to each other and in the process build enduring loyalty with our teams, our customers and our community. We can take those long overdue actions and complete those projects we never have time for that position us for success in the after. We can ensure we don’t waste this time. We can thrive.
I am encouraged by business leaders like Shannon Berg, Suzanne Hanifin, Laura Salerno Owens, Jennifer Fern Peterson, and Alice Tang who have come together the last few weeks to host a webinar where they have leveraged their knowledge, experience and many talents to help businesses understand what the ever-changing landscape of new legislation means to them. I am inspired by leaders like Jason Bolt who activated the talents and capabilities of his small team to help bring much needed PPE to our local healthcare workers on the front-line of this battle. I am thankful for the many individuals who continue to work to support those in need in our community without fanfare and recognition.
There will be an after and we can get there together. I know who I want to show up as in PlusPoint in COVID 19 – part of the solution. Our purpose is – flourish, our people, our clients, our community. We are here to help you navigate through these challenging times so that you are prepared thrive in the after. We’re always free to talk so please reach out if you think we might be able to help you.
If you’ve found this helpful, please feel free to download that graphic and share it with your teams, clients, and partners. Just click below to access the image, and then right click to save.
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