We know what you’re thinking. “Not another #COVID19 article.” Not to worry, we’re providing you some insight on how you can lead your team through the next few weeks (or months?).
Let us start off by saying “Who gives a s#*t?” To put it bluntly, if this is the first time you are talking to your clients, you are screwed. No one cares how you are handling it – they care about how they are handling it. People are scared. This black swan event is one that no one prepared for. Right now we are all trying to figure out how to keep the doors open. Leading through uncertainty means maintaining confidence in the midst of disaster, and your ability to do that may determine the fate of your business.
What can you do as a leader?
First, chill out. Meditate, go for walks, stress bake, or figure out what your go-to is for reducing your stress. This will help you act insightfully and rationally, not out of fear. Get real clear real quick as your level head is needed now more than ever.
Second, take a step back. Leading through uncertainty can’t be learned all at once, you must work in steps. What is the short-term impact to your company? What is the state of your cash flow situation? How long can you keep running and at what pace? What’s your pricing strategy? (I won’t go into how you should have already known this through good business acumen. We’ll save that for another day). Figure out the next week. Then the next pay cycle. Then the next month. Day by day, week by week, piece by piece. If you don’t have a long-term plan in mind, leading through uncertainty can often mean going with your gut, and accepting whatever consequences may arise.
Third, look for areas to pivot quickly and where you can exploit opportunities. (By exploit we don’t mean nefariously, only above-board ideas please.) What can you leverage quickly to keep your business afloat? Where can you pursue government contracts with limited effort to increase sales or revenue? Where can you cut costs? One of the biggest parts of leading through uncertainty is keeping the lights on, so if that’s where your focus needs to be, make sure it stays there until you’ve got a detailed, thorough plan.
Costs are always the easiest – it’s finding new revenue sources that requires creativity, forward-thinking and leadership. Before you start cutting everything, what can grow with minimal investment? Is your accounting managed properly, so you’re not leaving money on the table?
Finally, lead through uncertainty like your business depends on it. Because it does. Now is not a time to delegate to your surrogates. Now is not a time to not answer hard questions. Now is the time to show your business what you are made of. Even if you’re closing your doors or laying people off, the way and manner that you choose to do it will be remembered. If you are an entrepreneur at heart, you will take another shot at it in the future.
Who knows? You may even pivot to a new business model and revenue stream that only enhances your business AND keeps your employees employed, maybe even hiring GovCon employees more often than before. People will remember how you handled your business during these times. Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do. Leading through uncertainty often means leading by example, and with that in mind:
Lead from the front.
Act with kindness and grace.