A global pandemic. Race riots. Economic collapse. And apparently an asteroid headed our way.
Could 2020 get any worse? Let’s try not to answer that question.
The one ingredient that makes any crisis worse is a lack of leadership. And unfortunately, we are sorely lacking in leadership today. Who will step up to fill the vacuum, calm the storms and paint a picture of the future that can focus our energy to take positive action?
There’s only one answer, and the answer is you.
Your friends, neighbors, clients, donors, employees — they need to hear from you. You are a leader determined to make a dent in the world, and right now people need hope that leaders like you still exist.
How do you step into the unknown — and lead? There are several common traits of great leaders in a time of crisis:
Don’t have a plan yet? Not sure what the next step is? That’s not a problem. In fact, it’s an opportunity.
In a crisis, great leaders involve their teams in charting the path ahead. Going it alone introduces risks that you will make wrong decisions based on a lack of information and input. It also hurts the trust and confidence of those around you.
Ask good questions, listen as people open up. Create opportunities for people to be involved, whether that be a community project or a company initiative. Encourage involvement and watch people step up to the challenge.
Communicate a vision
When you are trying to meet payroll next week, it’s hard to think about what your organization looks like in three months, or a year. Can you take a moment to step back and picture it? What good outcomes are on the other side of this crisis?
The people you influence don’t expect you to have a plan to navigate every obstacle between here and there, but they want to hear what “there” looks like. Paint the picture of where you are headed with clarity and conviction.
Recently our nation has been turned inside out once again on the issue of race. In that moment, many of us have turned to the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who did not know what would happen or how it would happen, but he knew what it would look like when we got there:
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
That powerful dream has brought together a nation that still struggles with the path, but knows the destination.
What destination do you see? Can you tell that story, inspire your community, and lift others from despair to hope?
Engage with your team
Silence breeds anxiety. One of my worst habits is that when I get stressed and overwhelmed, I just put my head down and try to work my way out of the problem. That doesn’t work. I need — and you need — to communicate with our people, whether that be our family, friends, or colleagues.
Send the text, make the call, write the email — engage with people who need to hear a voice and share their story. They need someone to listen. They need hope. They need to connect.
Tools like Datrm.in help leaders build relationships and engage deeply with their teams of donors, clients, employees, and friends. There’s no reason not to take the time to connect. Like, today. Literally right now.
We are in a moment that is unfortunately not uniquely dire for humanity. Too often, we find ourselves in crises feeling that there is no way out. In these moments of crisis, however, leaders are forged.
Will you lead? Take that step. Share your voice. The world needs you now.