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The coronavirus has impacted our lives and our livelihoods; we are all anxious about our health, finances and jobs despite the fact that we have leaped far forward into the digital and virtual future.  This makes top executives leading our companies more important than ever.  The right executives can keep company’s profitable despite adversity.  During these past months we have seen courageous leadership in action when nonessential businesses quickly adapted and implemented workarounds to continue operating during the pandemic.

It is frequently said that courageous leaders run towards the problems. Over time these leaders become stronger because as problems are addressed, business moves forward.  Courageous leaders inspire others to overcome their limitations and take action to achieve more than they would on their own. Courageous leadership is essential when the economic, financial or social landscapes keep shifting or changing.

We have all experienced leaders who prefer the status quo and find it difficult to manage through annoyances.  Leaders who cannot manage through challenges tend to blame their direct reports rather than take responsibility.  They pass their uncertainty and misdirection onto their direct reports who begin to fight brushfires rather than work to accomplish the overall mission.  Direct reports learn to rely on gossip for information.

A better course is to take a realistic account of the challenge, ensure the team has the necessary resources and skills and then work alongside the team being a role model. What are some other attributes of leaders that will help navigate challenges effectively?

  • Being proactive and creative. Every day the pandemic creates ambiguity and chaos – we have modified our business and then reopened it only to close it again as the reported virus cases spike higher and higher.  Leaders who are comfortable being proactive and creative even in chaos.  They learn and correct course as they go and are comfortable making decisions without all the information.
  • Prioritize correctly. The majority of our time should be spent on the highest priority rather than remaining in our comfort zones focusing on something minor.
  • Maximize the strengths of others. When we know the strengths of each member of our team and utilize all of that strength, we all succeed.
  • Operate from the greater good perspective. We often operate to be profitable or do our job well because we will earn more money.  When we work with the corporate vision in mind, we can begin to think about how our company serves the greater good and helps people.  This can renew our enthusiasm just knowing that our job serves a higher purpose.
  • Ability to model and communicate the desired behavior. When the leader models courage and conviction, so will the team.
  • Address conflict constructively. Identify and acknowledge any conflict within your company and your team and work to resolve it.  It will not go away if you ignore it.
  • The most effective leaders collaborate with as many people as possible before making a decision.  Decisions made in a silo can exclude consideration of the impact on other aspects in the organization.
  • It is often difficult to be honest because we fear we will no longer be liked or likable if we say something negative.  Even positive, optimistic leaders recognize and address the negatives.

Some of our leaders are embracing transformational change and will continue to move forward and others can’t wait to return to the way things have always been done. What is certain is that every one of us will be long remembered for how we conducted ourselves and managed through the pandemic and who helped us to emerge stronger.

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