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Leading your teams in times of adversity

Leading your teams in times of adversity

We’re living through a period of tremendous change, and authentic leadership is more important than ever — not just for the health of your business, but also for the people who comprise your teams. But what does it really mean to lead with authenticity? How do you cut through the chaos and constant stream of unsettling news to serve as your organization’s voice of calm and reason? How do you convey to your people that, despite not knowing what’s in store, you’re prepared for whatever comes next? Let’s take a look at some tried and true leadership tactics that can help you weather whatever comes your way.

Act with anticipation  

As a leader, you’re accustomed to looking ahead. This foresight has served you well in the past and you’ll need to lean heavily on it now. When you’re in the driver’s seat, there’s always something to solve. With so much happening at once, it’s tempting to go into autopilot mode. But what you really need to do is roll up your sleeves and plan for what’s next. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start asking yourself the hard questions. Things such as, how will I meet unexpected demands? How will I speak to my stakeholders about what’s happening in the world, and how that impacts the organization? How do I recognize when the time is right to implement change within my teams?

Decide quickly 

Every decision counts, and you must act swiftly to address the urgent needs of the present. Allocate your resources accordingly and keep up with the fast pace of crisis management, but be sure to keep your cool. While you may not have ample time to process, it’s important to ensure that your choices are coming from a place of calm rather than panic. Speak to your people with honesty and compassion, keeping them informed along the way. By being direct, decisive, and determined, you’ll not only soothe frayed nerves, you’ll also earn trust and gain respect.

Express empathy

Above all, remember that you’re dealing with people and not just products. Sure, this may seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re busy balancing 10 different things in any given hour, it’s easy to lose focus on what matters most. It can take a lot to truly understand and empathize with what your people are going through, but you must try to put yourself in their shoes. As a leader, you’ve certainly experienced your fair share of obstacles. Use that experience, draw on those lessons learned and share this wisdom with your team. In the end, they’ll thank you for it. You can also find simple ways to boost the overall morale of your teams by making it a point to celebrate even their smallest wins.

Encourage self-care

Contrary to popular belief, self-care is not just a term reserved for mom blogs and Instagram influencers. It’s a real thing, and it’s non-negotiable for your teams. Think about it: If your people are not well-rested or tending to their own basic needs, how can you expect them to deliver their best work? Giving people time to process and cope with the fallout may seem like lost hours in the short run, but it will save you on productivity and cost — not to mention, it’s just the right thing to do. Encourage breaks and days off when people need them. And remember that you also need to take time for yourself.

Avoid leadership traps

During trying times, you may find yourself going with your gut and ignoring the data — but that’s a surefire path to disaster. Leading means rising above our most basic instincts to act without thinking. Taking time to process is not a sign of weakness, it’s strength. Look at the information you’re getting and ask your team for feedback. If you’re uncertain, slow down. And most importantly, hold yourself accountable. Step outside of your comfort zone, and when things don’t go according to plan, take responsibility. If you succeed, praise those who helped make it happen. Bottom line: Good leaders win, great leaders inspire others to win.


It’s OK to feel overwhelmed right now — in fact it’s normal to feel overwhelmed right now. What’s important is that you don’t allow the fleeting feelings of the moment to turn into a long-term limitation. Remember, it takes more than situational awareness or good instincts to pull through a crisis and come out on top, and it takes an entire team to make it happen. Treat your people especially well during this time and they’ll return the favor by making your business even better than it was before.