Leadership During COVID-19

Good leadership is far easier when revenue is high, the economy is favorable and nations are at peace.  It has been said that leaders are judged by their actions, not their intentions.  It is therefore imperative that our actions and words in times of crisis are well thought out, deliberate and defensible. Times like these create opportunities to build trust with our people by ensuring they are best prepared to succeed during this current crisis and any future crisis.

A time of economic stress is not the place for a leader to hunker down and “hope for the best.” There’s a significant difference between stepping back and assessing a situation and then taking informed action, as opposed to “hoping for the best.”  Hope is a poor leadership strategy during any crisis.  Now is the time to build situational awareness, assess the risks and chart your company’s path through the dangers.  You don’t have to be perfect, but you DO have to take action. George Patton once said; “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week”.  Words to live by.

COVID-19 should force us to double down on our people by leading them to mission success through these unprecedented times. Our people, the most important part of our operation, are justifiably concerned about their families and jobs, all while losing valuable operational experience. Reinforcing our dedication to the team through support and understanding of what each team member is experiencing is hard, but this is precisely what your team needs and will notice.   Over-communicating current and future mitigation strategies will create a more adaptable, flexible workforce.   As we continue to execute our corporate mission, albeit at lower production levels, the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique leadership challenges. The main Human Performance Factor hazard created by COVID-19 is the distraction of our workforce, creating increased risk to safe and efficient operations.  We can’t remove this distraction completely, but we can take measures to meter volume, reinforce safety barriers and tighten fiscal oversight.  Demonstrating and discussing this with our teams will alleviate some of the concern and refocus our company on the things it can control.

This crisis will pass, as they all do, and we need to be prepared for that phase as well.  Thinking and preparing for brighter times will help mentally and physically. A hazard that will inevitably follow COVID-19 will be our diminished operational capability during the post-crisis ramp up.  Our skills will have waned and our teams will involve new members.  We’ll take the hazards in turn, but the time for planning post crisis operations is now.  Use it or lose it

Dell Bull
Rear Admiral USN (Ret)

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