How do you strategically approach a crisis and shift from an immediate-needs perspective to reflective, long-term thinking? This is a high-level leadership challenge.
Here are ways to support leaders to be reflective thinkers:
Recognize in times of crisis, there is a tendency to want to ride it out and wait to get back to the way things were, instead of recognizing that there is permanent change happening. For example, many clients I work with understand that video conferencing and working remotely are going to greatly influence new ways of conducting business, which changes who we can reach and how we can reach them.
Operate with a sense of purpose and intention that aligns everyone in the organization. Communicate your plan and messages daily, ideally via video gatherings where everyone can see each other’s faces. Don’t go for perfection; it’s more important for people to connect and to hear from you. Make sure everyone in your organization understands how important her/his/their role is in ensuring the organization’s success and its mission at this key time.
Orient towards workability. Assess decisions through a lens of proactive pragmatism, rather than ruminating over small details that waste valuable time and resources.
Plan for things in the new normal and don’t spend time wishing for things to be as they were. Keep speaking about this to your team and board.
Acknowledge the anxiety that is everywhere. Leaders need to know how to talk to their teams about anxiety and understand how to acknowledge but not indulge in the fear. In our team, we discuss our fears and anxieties in the context of harnessing our fear toward intention and action.
Take frequent breaks. These are emotional times. Our brains are working hard. It is important to step away from work several times a day. Go for walks, call friends, be still. This is not a time to muscle through.
Jacki is Principal of Davidoff Strategy, a national consulting firm for philanthropic organizations. Davidoff integrates strategy, culture, and leadership development to lead organizations, boards, and teams to identify the next level of their organizational growth, including uncovering internal barriers that limit their effectiveness. Davidoff’s diverse client organizations include the American College of Preventive Medicine, Christopher Family Foundation, de Beaumont Foundation, Chicago Child Care Society, Duke Community & Family Medicine, One Hope United, NORC at the University of Chicago, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.