Great Leaders Share these Seven Traits
COVID-19 has created unprecedented turmoil globally. Few businesses have been able to avoid the impact. How leaders have responded is widely varied. They have either been decisive and calmed concerns or have created more chaos. What leadership characteristics are making the biggest positive impact?
Empathy may be the most important leadership trait in this crisis. Understanding, and caring, how this will impact their employees and their families is paramount. In addition to their employees, how it will impact others. Currently, the economic impact of the virus is being felt disproportionately in the hospitality and service sector. However, millions of low paid hourly workers and small businesses are being adversely affected. Empathetic leaders consider the impact of their decisions on the most vulnerable.
Effective leaders are transparent, calm, and steady. They provide people with the best information available at that time. When circumstances are so fluid, these leaders remind people to expect the unexpected. Delivering unpleasant news, compassionately and directly, is essential to maintain trust in leadership in a time of crisis.
Having a plan and communicating that plan is essential. Great leaders don’t wait for the crisis. They plan for situations that they do not think will happen. Knowing that there is a plan - and that even during turbulence – the plan can be relied on for guidance is calming.
As rapidly evolving as this current pandemic is on business, flexibility and adaptability are key. Decisions are being made in a fluid and rapidly changing environment and those decisions may need modifications and changes. Having the humility to admit that a new course of action is needed will separate leaders. Being autocratic, rigid, and egotistical hampers leaders and their organizations.
Exceptional leaders align their actions with their purpose. They communicate the “why” and how these actions align with the greater purpose of the leader and the organization. It helps in both acceptance and adoption. For the coronavirus pandemic, understanding the importance of “flattening the curve” to slow the speed of the virus spread as well as maintain hospital beds and equipment for the sickest people, could make all the difference.
Adaptable leaders are open to the unknown. They are able to function where there are high levels of grey. They listen to their key advisors and team members. They are comfortable saying, “I don’t know and I will do my best to find out.” At the same time, they are working to obtain the facts and get the best information from the most reliable sources. Remarkable leaders are able to see the bigger picture. While no one knows where this pandemic is going, it is not a time for myopic blinders. Effective leaders surround themselves with others that can help them see their blind spots.
Great leaders are able to park their own ego and look for the best interests of their community, even if it is not in their best interest. At some point, this crisis will abate and what may remain is how did our leaders manage their companies and themselves through it. Did their company, their employees and their community emerge stronger or did they create additional collateral damage?
About the authors: Gary Jaburg is managing partner of the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He assists clients with business matters, employment issues, workouts of financial issues, and business divorce. Brenda Edwards is the Executive Director of the firm and frequently writes on business and law firm management topics.