6 Tips for Leading through the Coronavirus Outbreak

Mar 13 / By Nikki Vescovi
by Nikki Vescovi
As sports seasons are cancelled, travel restrictions are put into place and more of us are working from home, organizations are already feeling the dramatic impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. Globally organizations are facing challenges and at times like this leadership is critical. As Winston Churchill posited, “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.” Here are six tips that can help lead our teams to maintain a resilient mentality in these difficult times.
  1. Check your attitude first – In challenging times people may magnify the worst-case scenario.  It is important to control this.  Pragmatically assess the situation.  Work through this “worst case” stage and move beyond it to a place where you can focus on what possibilities are created in the new, ever-changing environment.  Tapping into your own adaptive, resilient skills is important.  This is not the first time you or your team have faced a challenge.  Remind yourself how you have overcome these challenges in the past and shift your “mental” state first.  

  2.  Formulate your plan – Create a plan and take action so you can move things forward and prevent instability.  Tap into the talent of your key strategic players.  Expand your own thinking.  At times like this we can find ourselves being trapped in a rut.  As we may have heard, “A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.”  We can’t afford to let our mental thinking slip into a rut.   Earl Nightingale encourages us to see that, “All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”

  3.  Look for opportunities - Just as Newton’s Third Law of Motion indicates that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, for every challenge there is an equal and opposite opportunity.  Challenge your team to look for what can be done and to expand into new ways of thinking.  As you did personally, shift the team’s focus to tap into their own resilient powers. Encourage the team to think creatively and find options to maximize existing opportunities while controlling costs.  Moving toward this plan creates a sense of direction and purpose. 

  4.  Refocus efforts and take advantage of the time that is freed up – There are always profitable actions, not critical but important activities, that we often put off because we feel we are too busy to do them.  Now is the time to encourage our teams to take full advantage of any downtime for these important activities such as planning and process improvements.

  5. Consistently communicate with your team – Remember, this too shall pass.  Fear is flooding people’s minds. We are not only dealing with a “physical” virus, we are dealing with a “mental” virus. Social distancing is necessary yet also creates a greater sense of isolation and potential depression.  It will be important to create consistent, virtual contact so people do not panic or become even more fearful.  People will be looking to their leaders for this confidence and support. Communicate as quickly as possible, especially once a plan has been determined.  The team will gravitate toward the strong leader’s resilient attitude. Maintain encouragement and focus the team on activities that can assist with growth. 

  6. Maintain a normal routine, as much as possible – Given that people’s usual routine will be disrupted, it will be important to maintain as consistent a schedule as possible.  Discipline and focus will be critical.  Have individuals concentrate on what they can do, versus what can’t be done.  Set objectives and use this as an opportunity to communicate with the team players to check-in on progress and maintain motivation and connection with the team. 
NIKKI VESCOVI speaks on How to Master Disaster after surviving a plane crashing into her apartment, a truck driving over the top of her car while she was inside, and a drunk driver hitting her entire family of four while crossing a road in Germany.