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Dear Business Leaders: Don't F***ing Panic
By now, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed by all the news and hype around coronavirus. It already has made an enormous impact on our economy and social structure, and the coming months will be a tumultuous test of our resiliency.
As the CEO of a small software company, I’m in the same position that many managers and leaders are in – to make decisions that:
Even if you aren’t in the C-Suite, if you have anyone who works for you, they are looking to you for guidance, especially in times like these. And whether you mean it to or not, the things you say and do will profoundly impact the people around you.
So what do real leaders do when uncertainty rules? I’ll tell you one thing they don’t do – panic. Panic causes fear, and fear, as the great Paul Atreides once said, is the mind-killer.
While you’re not panicking, great leaders will do some things that you will want to do:
1. Be honest, with yourself and with other people. Recognize there are going to be difficult times ahead and don’t try to sugar coat anything. Don’t blow things out of proportion or create unnecessary drama, but trust starts with truth.
2. Have a plan. Think about the contingencies, no matter how extreme. How will your team communicate with customers? With each other?
3. Be a resource. Don’t hide behind closed doors. Your team is looking to and at you for guidance, and shutting them out reinforces that you can’t be relied on. Great leaders are open to ideas and accept criticism, even in the most difficult times.
Accomplishing these things can be difficult, but in the modern era like all other times in history, communication is key. Your team, your customers, your vendors, and even people who are still considering buy from you will be influenced by what and how you say it.
Business strategy requires careful thought and planning from your company's entire leadership team. Preparing for economic downturns like we are experiencing now is part of that. If you haven't already, it's not too late. There are a few steps you can take to recession proof your business and show your resilience:
Remember that crises come and go, and coronavirus is just another crisis in a long line of “things that happen”. This one is going to have a significant impact on many elements of our society, but it’s up to you to lead your team through it. You got this.
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