Scaling Can’t Stop in Uncertain Times: Leading Through Times of Crisis

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On April 7, 2020


Moving Forward in Uncertain Times (A short series)

It’s fairly obvious that “business as usual” no longer applies to any of us. That’s why, for the next few weeks I plan to focus on things we can do to keep moving forward—even in uncertain times. I plan to take a look at essential thinking, planning, and execution—in light of some of the challenges we all currently face. I’m also very aware that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. While we’re all affected by the spread of COVID-19, not everyone is impacted in the same way. I hope that the principles I’ll be sharing will help you move forward in a way that’s appropriate for your specific situation.

 Scaling Can’t Stop in Uncertain Times: Leading Through Times of Crisis

Great leadership is critical for any scaling company. It’s essential in times of crisis. As a leader of a scaling company, many of your tasks remain the same—but you may have to fulfill them in new and creative ways.

Let’s look at a few leadership responsibilities that don’t change—but may need to be executed in different ways.

Clear Vision Remains Critical

In times of crisis, one natural human reaction is to withdraw and focus on protection. People tend to focus on what’s going on immediately around them. That’s a normal reaction. As a leader, you need to compassionately acknowledge that (even in your own life). However, it is also your responsibility to keep your company’s vision clear and in focus.

You and your leadership team may want to revisit your vision to ensure that it’s still on target. Then you’ll need to examine whether or not you need to make changes to the way you plan for and execute your vision.

In our current situation with COVID-19, it would be absurd to act as if nothing had changed. Instead, remind your employees of what hasn’t changed (your vision) and enlist their support in figuring out how to navigate toward the fulfillment of that vision in new ways.

Not only does that help you prepare your business for scaling up, but it is also a morale-lifter. Remind your employees that they are part of something bigger than what they see here and now. That’s one of the key elements you need to attract and keep great employees.

Commit to Clear Communication Regularly

You can’t expect a one-time “pep talk” to keep people motivated. That’s particularly true when things are unsettled and uncertain. When dealing with changes that come daily it is important to keep employees informed about how those changes will impact them regularly—and it’s important to be transparent in your communication. You may not even know what your next steps will be, yet. Let your employees know that you’re aware and that you’re working on it.

You may even want to rethink your own job description. Consider yourself as the Chief Communications Officer. You don’t have to add that to your business card or your letterhead. That’s not the point. It is, however, essential that you keep the task of communication front and center—not just in times of crisis, but all the time. Even if you have someone in charge of communications within your company, the impetus needs to come from you.

Tools to Help in Times of Uncertainty

You are not alone in dealing with the changes brought on by COVID-19. There are tools available to help you deal with the disruption this crisis has spawned. To save you the time and effort of searching for these tools, we’ve collected some of the essential tools in one place and posted them on our website for your convenience. We’ll continue to add to this collection.

An Additional Tool

Here’s an additional tool you may find helpful when considering how to lead in times of uncertainty. It’s a link to John Maxwell’s webinar on Leading Through Crisis.

Think Short-term and Long-term

In times of uncertainty, it’s easy to focus exclusively on current concerns. Of course, you need to do that, but you also need to keep a long-range perspective. The current crisis will pass. Keep in mind where you want to be down the road. Focus on the essentials of scaling. Avoid the traps that can sidetrack you when things finally settle down. I encourage you to download our free How to Avoid the Growth Traps eBook to help you do that.

Stay safe and keep scaling!