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Leading Your Team During a Crisis

Amber Tucker

As of March 27, 2020, the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) is reporting over 85,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Many states are issuing stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders and it is impacting the way business operate. Leading through this can feel a lot like swimming against the tide with new information coming from all angles constantly, staying afloat can be a herculean effort. In times of chaos and uncertainty, teams look to their leaders for guidance and reassurance. While no one knows how long the pandemic will last, there are things that leaders can do to be effective leaders and maintain morale and productivity with their team.    


There is a lot of uncertainty right now and there is a constant influx of new information. Effective leaders should acknowledge and address the concerns of the team to quell any rumors that may be circulating around the team. If there are any rumors floating around, address them in an open way without shaming anyone. There will be things that are not ready to be broadcast, and that is okay. Remind your team that this is an evolving process and things may change based on the recommendations or mandates from government and medical professionals.  

Schedule Trainings

Industries where this is feasible, telework is going to be the new normal. Schedule trainings on the software that your company will use to facilitate remote working. This will ensure that the entire has what they need to continue being productive and allow you communicate expectations on workflow and communication processes. Invest in an instant messenger platform such as Slack or Microsoft Teams for quick communications and a video conferencing platform like Zoom or GoToMeeting. Some may have free options depending on how large your team is. 

Create and Maintain Schedules

If your team regularly meets on Tuesday mornings, stick to that routine and hold a video conference. On the other hand, if your team does not have a regular meeting, this is a good time to implement one. Teleworking can be isolating, and regular meetings will help your team still feel like a team. It will reinforce the expectations on deliverables and productivity and keep your team organized. Your team members may be homeschooling their children or caring for a sick family member. Many working adults wear multiple hats, but we don’t typically wear them simultaneously. Whenever possible, allow flexibility and extend grace. 

Trust Your Team

During a crisis, it is natural to want to control everything. Resist the urge to micromanage. Not only will it add extra stress to you and alienate your team, it will make your organization less responsive. Effective leaders value their team member’s contributions which in turn, your team is motivated to do their best work. Make an effort to recognize and celebrate your team member’s accomplishments. Right now is the time to celebrate all victories no matter how small. 

Be Kind to Yourself

These are not normal times, and although you are responsible for leading your team, you must also protect your mental health. Take time for yourself to indulge in or create a self-care routine. You cannot be an effective leader if you are not in a healthy mental space. 

We are in uncharted territory; however, it is important to remember that it will not last. How you lead your team now will determine how your organization emerges from this.

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