Effectively Communicating Your Covid-19 Message

Businessman stopping the domino effect

Written by Dr. K. Whelan

Dr. Whelan is the Founder and CEO of Belem LLC. She specializes in partnering, empowering, and positioning executive leaders and teams for success by helping them design strategies that create stakeholder impact.

March 17, 2020

Yes, we are inundated with Covid-19 emails from organizations, tv broadcasts, and social media posts [including this one]. Whether you have been directly affected or not, Covid-19 is the reality of today.

 

As leader, it is your responsibility to ease the chaos that ensues within your organization, and to the external partners you serve.

Think back to the day before the world went red.

Was your leadership team ready for what has now become a pandemic? Did you have a “disaster” plan in place? Or, are you scampering to align yourself with CDC and World Health Organization directives?

Regardless of if you had a plan to combat what has become a life-threatening interruption, you as leader are tasked with what may be the development opportunity of a lifetime. The opportunity to grow in your capacity to effectively communicate as a leader.

Here are 5 things great leaders have in common during times of chaos:

1.     Leaders effectively communicate with their people.

Now is the time to exercise your communication skills.

Great leaders know there is power in the tongue. This means that you, as leader, have the capability to calm the storm that is likely brewing inside your organization. The messaging you provide is essential and is a way for you to express what is necessary to create a life-line for those in your organization to grasp ahold of.

 

Your people need your voice.

One that is clear, consistent, and offers hope.

Twenty-first century organizations are made up of culturally diverse individuals and at times, 5 generations who give and receive communication differently. Mixed or misunderstood messaging is the last thing your people need at a time like this.

How are you making sure your message is landing with all, not just a select few? What communication platforms are you using to be sure different learning styles are accounted for?

2.     Leaders offer a message of hope.

During times of uncertainty, leaders offer a message of hope.

As leader, regardless of your rank or role, you are the example. If your people see you, their leader, in chaos, your people will follow that example.

 

 

The message you offer will be remembered. When done right, crafting a message of hope will create an environment of trust, compassion, loyalty, and resiliency.

This may be a good time to revisit your mission, vision, and values statement. What does your organization stand for? What is important for you to relay to your people? How can you as leader, create an environment that thrives, collaborates, and unifies during these times?

3.     Leaders review corporate handbooks.

Let’s face it, what your HR department has compiled may need to be re-visited. Corporate documents should be working documents during times such as this. The main objective is to protect your people.

How can you leverage this opportunity to help where help is needed most? Maybe it’s pooling sick time. Or, maybe it’s allowing workers to practice social distancing by working from home. [give my article Leaders & Teams Are You Ready? Social Loafing Is Inevitable As We Practice Social Distancing a read for some tips on displaced teams]

4.     Leaders listen and act upon what their people need most.

As you step out of your office and into the world of your people, remember to honor them with a listening ear. Your people are individuals with needs that may look and feel different than what you think. Some of these needs can be met with creative implementations and others may not be fully feasible.

It’s true, no matter how much you try to be accommodating, not everyone will be happy with decisions that are made. However, when leaders demonstrate being a caring, listening leader, your people will respond and loyalty will be generated.

 

Your organization is only as healthy as the people within the walls, even if those walls are in the virtual space.

Honoring your people could be in the form of contracting with a coaching entity to help create an action plan, behavioral health specialist to assist with some of the anxiety or depression that may creep in, a spiritual guide to offer a faith component, or training around the importance of wellness.

5.     Leaders cast light in darkness.

There is no time like now to demonstrate the leader you are called to be. Continuing the conversations with your top team and disseminating messaging down and throughout your organization is key. Make yourself available. Be visible to your people even if this is through video conferencing.

Establish that you care about your people as a human-beings.

 

Validate concerns while creating an environment of certainty rather than uncertainty.

This allows your people to rest in and trust your leadership direction.

Being a bright shining beacon in the storm allows your people to see and feel the authenticity that is crucial for leaders to exhibit during times of plenty and during times of hardship.

 

The time is now for you to shine.

Be the leader you are created to be.

If you can answer the questions: How can I step more fully into my leadership role, communicate a meaningful message, and who do I need support from, you are on your way!

Blessings and Strength.

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