The best advice for leaders facing adversity during COVID-19

What is the best piece of advice for leaders right now?

Control what you can control, and work your butt off to positively influence everything else. It’s really that simple. It’s a minimalist strategy of “less is more” because right now, all of us are dealing with a “save the world” type of mindset. We don’t need to be everything to everyone. We just need to get the job done that’s right in front of us.

A “new normal” has set in over the past several months and yet of course, there’s no playbook for constantly leading on the fly. Priorities change by the day — not just the week.

Even the best contingency plans never could have anticipated the layoffs, canceled events and overall adversity COVID-19 has wrought on the global economy. It’s this constant cloud that is hanging over every businessperson’s head that can become a torturous, ominous figure that threatens every decision we make.


Take back control

So, what are the things you can control? Start here:

The way you communicate to your employees, clients and yes, even the self-talk you replay each day for yourself.

You have exclusive ownership over the words (and autosuggestion thoughts for yourself) that you deliver to the people you lead. Keep a positive outlook, but be authentic. Don’t deal from a position of fear, yet lay out the cards and provide clear expectations.

The lives you can impact simply by making a small investment of time in each individual.

Even in a remote environment, by reaching out to say hello and investing your time in an individual’s happiness and success, you can have a profound impact. Don’t get so caught up in the professional or superficial side of a relationship. Go deep. Get real and show an interest in that individual as a human being. We could all use a little empathy right now.

Identify new and different ways of making a profit.

Take a page from a company like Victorinox AG and adapt to the market conditions and create new revenue streams. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Swiss company was in a nosedive financially. Their products were banned on airplanes. The maker of the Swiss Army Knife was suddenly facing a crisis. So, what did they do?

They started producing new, high-quality products and they adapted to the times. They didn’t stop investing in their employees. They didn’t stop investing in new ways of thinking. Instead, they doubled-down and crafted a strategy to address ways to provide the market with products they need that still fit their overall organizational mission.

Be decisive and clear when giving direction.

As the famous Theodore Roosevelt quote goes, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

The point is, don’t freeze up right now. Your employees and followers are counting on you. Be willing to act and spend time thinking strategically about not just the present — but the future.

Delegate the day-to-day (or even hour-to-hour) tactics to your operations managers and mid-level leaders. Focus on the big picture. Be willing to let the people that surround you challenge your perceptions, ideas and ways of thinking. This is not an assault on your leadership — but at its best, it’s an attempt to make you and the organization better.


Concluding Thoughts

Every great leader provides clarity for the people she leads. This takes a strategic way of thinking that is guided by empathy and foresight. So many things right are out of your control, as a leader. Focus on what you can control and you will guide your organization through these turbulent times.

This article originally appeared on Medium.