Executives can draw on their experiences from past economic downturns to help their teams and companies weather the COVID-19 crisis, and emerge strong.

Leading compassionately during challenging times is about taking care of your family and staff while being of service to your organization and the greater world around you. 

Companies notice who the real helpers are within their organizations during challenging times. When this phase passes – and it will – companies, their executive leadership teams and Boards will not forget those who stepped up to shine as selfless leaders.

Many executives who remember the downturns in 2001 and 2008 are wisely drawing on that experience to position themselves as a go-to person for helping employees, business partners, clients, and vendors remain safe and stable, and even thrive in today’s challenging market. 

Here are six ways to lead compassionately in today’s conditions and be of service to those around you:

1. Support your staff in their care of their families. Everyone is dealing with some set of challenges today’s changing landscape. Offering open lines of communication to help your team members balance their work and home responsibilities will go a long way once this crisis is over. Children are at home and may need supervision with online learning during the day, many live in multi-generational households, or may not have a dedicated quiet workspace during normal business hours. Therefore, new levels of flexibility and empathy are required to provide people with the opportunity they need to get their work done. Tap the resources of your Human Resources department, as well as HR and IT leadership resources from reputable sources such as Society for Human Resource Management and CIO Executive Council for ideas and assistance. These resources, often presenting the experiences and perspective of your peers, can help you be a stronger leader during this difficult time.

2. Help people update their resumes and LinkedIn profiles now, so they are prepared for any potential realignment of talent within the company, including layoffs and furloughs. Recent news has revealed that very few industries or professions are being spared from the waves of job disruption during this COVID-19 crisis. Good managers help and encourage their teams prepare to capitalize on all available internal opportunities to be retained or land on their feet somewhere else as soon as possible, should there be a sudden change. Help them by reviewing and providing feedback on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Here is a resource I have created to help people update their resumes, and one to help with LinkedIn profiles.


Related article:

Making it Happen in Times of Crisis

by Tim Reed


3. Brainstorm ways that the skills and experience of team members can be repurposed in your IT department, elsewhere in the company, and at vendor or partner organizations. You know the strengths of your team best, so try to anticipate shifting talent needs and be ready to protect your staff while filling the needs of your organization or others at the same time. 

4. Evaluate vendors’ pandemic plans. Check on your suppliers inside and outside IT that interact with your organization. Ensure they are equipped for safety of their team and then evaluate their pandemic plans to determine how prepared they are to continuously support your company’s changing needs throughout the crisis.

5. Encourage attention to mental and physical health, and do the same for yourself. Adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are more important than ever, regardless of your age or profession. When working from home, especially during stressful times, it is important to encourage good habits to maintain the resources within to handle what the world brings and plan for the unexpected. Meditation resources like Ten Percent Happier, and diet and exercise sites like My Fitness Pal, by Under Armour, and many other mind-body resources can help people structure their days and stick to a routine. 

6. Don't forget your own career needs! While you are helping your team with their job security and future prospects, don’t forget to do the same for yourself. In addition to updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, nurture and grow your professional network by reconnecting with past colleagues and meeting new people who could potentially help you find your next job. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for your own personal video conferencing services like Zoom, Skype, or GoToMeeting, and an online scheduling tool such as TimeTrade or Acuity Scheduling to make it easy to schedule video conference calls. Use these tools set up your own one-on-one chats, group social hours, professional association virtual meetups, and corporate and college alumni online get-togethers. In today’s climate, there is no easier way to build a network than taking advantage of the digital tools that are available to you. This way your network is primed to help you should you need it. 

We learned from the 2001 and 2008 recessions that we can be of service by helping others to cope and even thrive during times of crisis. By doing so, we help our companies come out stronger after the recovery—because we will eventually recover.

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