How to Lead Well in a Crisis


The COVID-19 pandemic and the following recession changed the business and economic world in many ways, some of them irreversible. In what felt like a blink of an eye, so many business leaders have had to contend with imposed lockdowns, a shift to remote work, significant revenue falls, and other unexpected challenges.

From world leaders to corporate CEOs to small business owners, there’s no denying that the crisis has tested many leaders’ ability to manage and lead well in a crisis. Everything rises and falls in leadership, as they say, and nothing calls for effective leadership more than a time of uncertainty and disaster. Here are a few tips for leading your team well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Always be honest.

It’s tempting to sugarcoat how bad things are when disaster strikes, but honesty is an integral part of leading well. Acknowledging the reality of the situation and the impact it will have on the business and the employees is the first step to addressing the problem.

Not everyone needs to know everything, but it is vital to keep everyone properly informed. Go on a need-to-know basis. Keep your communication lines open, and let your team know it’s OK for them to communicate their needs and concerns as well. Communicate in a way that lets them know the facts, but without inciting more fear and anxiety.

Position yourself as the most trusted source, instead of rumors that can cause unnecessary panic.

Encourage a spirit of unity.

Let your team know that you are all in this together. It’s important to foster genuine connections during this difficult time.

Employees may feel threatened about cuts and may see their co-workers and other factors as a threat to their tenure. Combat this by being honest about where they stand in the company. The worst-case scenario should be that you let them go but did so compassionately and graciously, while the best-case scenario should be that they look back on this one day and remember that their boss had their back during this crisis.

Show compassion.

Chances are, as hard as you have it, your employees are having it much worse. No matter how big your business is, your employees don’t share the same privileges you enjoy as the owner.

Express your concerns for their mental, physical, and emotional well-being. If any of them are feeling symptoms, permit them to miss both physical and virtual work. Tell them that you are not just after your business’ survival; you are also working hard to help secure their safety as well.

Be proactive, not passive.

Take active steps towards protecting your business and your employees. Develop a business continuity plan, a document that details how your business can continue operating during this unexpected interruption in service. If you have already outlined this plan before the pandemic, go over it to see what plans you can implement to help protect your team, lessen the risk of infections in your building or workplace, so your business can continue to operate.


A recession is not the time for a one-man show; you need all the help you can get from your colleagues and your team. Take this time to foster a spirit of facilitative leadership-it will give your team a sense of ownership for the company. Delegate tasks well and trust others to see things that you cannot. Even leaders have blind spots, and your team may come up with solutions alongside you.

Create an essential and clear list of priorities and give your managers autonomy to implement them. Establish mutual trust by decentralizing leadership where you can.

Lead with clarity, a sense of purpose, and a focus on the future.

Avoid informing them of problems without offering possible solutions. Assure them that even though you may not have all the answers, you are on top of things and have a clear direction for the company.

Offer clear and immediate answers. Until when will you be working from home? Are all the upcoming events and travels canceled? When do we resume operations? Identify the stakeholders and what specific information they need to know.

Let your team know that you are working hard to combat the effects of the pandemic so that the business can bounce back when this is all over.

What Defines Our Leadership

How an executive succeeds and fails during times of upheaval will define them as a leader.Unfortunately, projections show that we willnot see the end of the pandemic anytime soon. It depends upon executives and business owners to lead and to do it well.