How do purposeful leaders show up in a crisis?


Leading a business is never easy. It can be stressful, tedious and even overwhelming — and a crisis (like, oh, I don’t know, COVID-19) doesn’t help. But crises aren’t the end of the world; they’re an opportunity to lead your business purposefully and reaffirm your commitment to growth.

There’s no cookie-cutter formula for leading a company, especially when times are tough. But with these tips, you’ll be able to take the next right step toward revitalizing your business despite any crisis.

Tip #1: Reprioritize your to-dos

Take a long hard look at where your company is going. What have you been working on? What are your long and short-term goals? Are they still feasible?

Be realistic with yourself, and change your goals if you need to. It’s okay to put something on the back burner, or even move a low-priority initiative up to spot #1. Discuss this candidly with the rest of your team (and your business coach, if you have one), and make sure everyone is clear on expectations and next steps. Teamwork has never been more important than it is now.

Tip #2: Look for new opportunities

Many businesses are taking a hit right now. But that doesn’t mean growth is impossible — it just means you have to be creative. 

A crisis can change the fundamental structure of your business, but it can also open a whole new set of doors. Look for ways to grow your business outside of the status quo. For example:

  • Reexamine your competition for any changes in strategy that need to be addressed
  • Start a new marketing campaign to communicate directly with your customers about the crisis 
  • Explore the idea of offering new services better suited to your customers’ immediate needs 
  • Closely monitor your cash flow, and be prepared to eliminate any unnecessary spending (even outside of a crisis, every penny counts!)

The idea is not to capitalize on the crisis. Rather, it’s all about finding the silver lining and taking a long, hard look at how you can better serve your customers.

Tip #3: Communicate, communicate, communicate

We can’t say this enough. Uncertainty makes everyone anxious — including your employees. That anxiety, coupled with the physical isolation of working from home, can spiral quickly if it’s not addressed, resulting in loss of morale and productivity.

Consider holding regular, scheduled meetings to address any changes to your situation, and candidly explain what it means for your business. Take stock in how your employees might be feeling, and give them a chance to voice these concerns. The crisis (and how your business is handling it, surviving, and hopefully, thriving) should be an ongoing conversation.

Tip #4: Redouble your focus on customer service

Your customers are going through a lot right now. Knowing that they’re working with a company who truly cares could be the difference between a lasting partnership and a substantial loss. 

Find ways to deliver awesome customer care in a way that fits in the new “normal”:


  • Emphasize communication with your customers, whether it’s through email lists (with relevant information), social media or one-on-one video chats 
  • If any changes in your company will impact your customers, be proactive about letting them know what to expect
  • Closely monitor website form submissions, customer care emails and hotlines, and be diligent about responding

Tip #5: Have a recovery plan, & be ready to change it

Planning for the short-term is a must — but you shouldn’t ignore the future. Once the initial shock of the crisis has worn off, it’s important to consider how your company will act when things go back to normal.

Make a list of everything you’d need to get back to normal, and create realistic, actionable goals for getting them. As the crisis continues to develop, you may need to change your recovery plan to account for new developments. The most important thing is do not rush. Recovery takes time, and for good reason.

Deep breaths. You can do this.

Crises are rarely expected, and never welcome. You’re not the first person in a leadership role to experience this, and you won’t be the last. Remember: You’re not alone! You have the know-how, spirit and dedication to get your business through this. Your team is rooting for you (and so are we). 

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