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In times like these leaders stand up, or shut down.

We’ve talked about the fragility of values before. In good times, a company may spruik its ethics only to discard them in tough times.

For millions of Australians COVID-19 is the epitome of a tough time.

Their hours may be cut. They’re likely cut off from their colleagues. They’re juggling the demands of their job with an isolated home life. They’re concerned for the health of their loved ones.

Change + Stress + Anxiety = Poor performance

Here’s how real leaders can stand up and be counted.

Honesty

Regular, open and honest communication is the key to helping your team handle the challenges thrown at them.

Don’t try to sugar-coat a situation. Conversely, don’t overstate the seriousness of a situation. 

And most of all, don’t keep them in the dark. If you don’t tell them what’s going on, the communication void you’ve created will be filled by rumours that will only be detrimental to the health and productivity of your staff.

Empathy

It’s hard to be a manager or business owner. You weren’t taught how to prepare for an economy-crushing pandemic.

The easiest path is to bunker down and look after yourself and your family.

But it’s in dire situations like this that strong leaders put their own needs aside and think first of the needs of those around them.

Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of those you work with. It won’t take long to realise how powerless, stressed and insecure they must be feeling.

Do what nice, caring, respectful people do. Look after others.

That’s your starting point.

Not every situation will have a happy ending. But if you’ve been honest, empathetic and done your best to help your staff during a tough time, you’ve been the leader they needed.

Trust

You’re under pressure. But you don’t need to make things harder by micro-managing your staff.

Trust them to do their jobs well. Trust them when they give you advice. Trust them even if they’re not in a ‘leadership role’.

Many of the answers you’re looking for will come from your team. Listen to them. They’ll tell you what they need to feel supported and what they need to stay productive.

Hope

Coronavirus is everywhere.

Every conversation, every action, and every media report has COVID-19 at its centre.

It’s suffocating. But there will be an end to it.

Aside from the practical and emotional support you’re giving your staff, give them hope. A light at the end of the tunnel (that isn’t a train) helps your staff remain positive.

You can build their resilience by giving them the tools they need to cope in a crisis.

You can offer flexible work conditions to help them find a healthy work/life balance.

Honesty, empathy, trust and hope. These are the traits shown by real leaders in times of real hardship.

Now, who’s ready to stand up?

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