How to Lead Your Team With Compassion During the Pandemic

Tips to help leaders and CEOs communicate with their teams through the ups and downs of our current crisis

Girts Ragelis/ Shutterstock
Girts Ragelis/ Shutterstock

Leaders and CEOs have a uniquely challenging opportunity to lead people through the COVID-19 crisis by imparting the right information that will help inspire them to feel hopeful that positive change will come. Optimism is sometimes what separates those who are anxious and depressed from those who are able to persevere and make it to better days ahead, unscathed.  Many of the traits that guide leaders through crisis can be applied to our own everyday lives– whether it is with friends or family members. 

Here are my tips for how leaders and CEOs can lead their companies through the current crisis and how you can use them, too:

1. Be empathetic.  This single quality might be one of the most powerful traits a leader can show.  Presidential elections have been won on this trait.  In 1992 then candidate Bill Clinton was masterful at showing empathy towards people in ways that his opponent couldn’t.  It humanized him and made him seem relatable.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has exuded this trait too, becoming the de facto soother-in-chief to many New Yorkers and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic. The same can said for you. Dig down deep and really try to understand what a friend or family member might feel as we go through this difficult time.  Think about what he or she might experience as a parent, a child, or as someone trying to make ends meet. Understand their reality and the emotions they feel.  

2. Be honest and don’t sugar-coat.  Being honest shows that you are in touch with the realities that someone faces. This will help prevent people, especially young children, from having false hope and avoid problems down the road.  

3. Stick with facts.  By guessing, peoples’ confidence in you will wane so stick with what you know to be true and if you don’t know, then state that.  By honestly keeping people in the loop you’ll help to eliminate uncertainty they might feel, keep any rumors at bay, and help to keep general stress levels down. 

4. Be confident.  Calm and confident leadership is often the antidote to uncertainty. 

5. Show what you’re doing.  In a time of crisis, people want to know that positive change is imminent.  You can accomplish this by clearly and simply stating the steps that you are taking. Convey to people what they can expect to see and experience.  For example, providing masks and gloves to loved ones, making an effort as a family to consolidate trips to the stores, and limiting social gatherings. 

6. Be accessible.  By letting people know how they can reach you they will feel connected and respected.

Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days by Jonathan Alpert.

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