On a normal basis, great leaders are continually adapting and shifting to compete in today’s marketplace. These qualities are even more important since the COVID-19 pandemic. With COVID-19, the environment is changing daily, which means, new challenges and decisions have to be made to keep moving forward.
Those leaders that do not remain flexible, and are unable to adapt and shift, will not be able to compete and survive the instability of the market.
Throughout history, we have seen volatile markets, but this does not mean you and your company can’t survive, or new business ideas can’t launch. There have been leaders that have been able to come out even stronger after facing a crisis.
There are three qualities that leaders have, that seize opportunities during challenging times.
1. They are creative problem solvers.
The ability to identify a need in changing times, and create a solution is paramount. Take for instance the 2008 recession, applications such as Slack, were created in the midst of this crisis to improve their internal communications over multiple time zones. In 2014, Slack went public seeing the potential of their enterprise communication tool for collaboration and productivity.
During COVID-19, the number of remote workers skyrocketed, increasing the demand for employees to stay connected and communicate with co-workers differently. Due to this need, Slack saw an increase of 9,000 new paying customers in the first quarter of 2020.
2. They make decisions quickly and take action.
The ability to identify the need to change strategies and make pivotal decisions with immediate action is imperative. Opportunities can be lost if not acted on promptly. The companies that did not pivot or are slow to pivot will not survive. Leaders that quickly recognized they had to change how they were doing business are not only are surviving but in some instances, going beyond what they were doing prior.
NOLA Brewing Company in New Orleans, LA is one of those companies. They went from losing about 80% of their customers because of bars and restaurants being shut down to meeting a current product need and establishing a different customer base. They were able to keep employees and hire additional staff by pivoting and making hand sanitizers in their taprooms for hospitals and grocery stores.
3. They identify and mitigate risks.
The ability to identify and mitigate risks based on the new circumstances you are facing as a leader is critical. Crises bring new problems that may not have been considered in your company’s plans, policies, and procedures.
Therefore, it is important to create a team to evaluate what you are currently facing, what might arise, and how that affects your company, employees, and clients. Take the time to slow down, evaluate, and make appropriate decisions and adjustments to ensure your company is protected.
Consider leading a “premortem” as Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP did with a recent client, which takes place before a crisis so that you can identify and mitigate risks in advance. This is similar to a post-mortem, but here, you are contemplating scenarios that have not happened yet but thinking through them as though they have.
As we continue to deal with COVID-19 and other immerging crises, you can be a leader that seizes opportunities and makes your company even stronger than before.
What other leadership qualities do you think are important to seize opportunities during crises?
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