The coronavirus has been shutting down almost the entire world. For many people, after the crisis, probably nothing will be the same as it was before. For some smaller companies the virus will be the reason for closure, for larger companies and corporations it will mean an indirect restart.
People who have worked in the home office for weeks or even months will be need to get used to the office routine again. Managers and their employees, who for a certain time only communicated with each other online, will then face each other again in the office. This can be challenging, takes time and demands good leaders.
- Pave the way out of the crisis already now
While the crisis came over us unexpectedly, we can already plan for a return to normality – even though we do not yet know when this crisis will be completely over. But one thing is certain: Even more than usual it will be about accomplishing the extraordinary, i.e. “Epic Stuff”. The core task will be to restore motivation and focus or even take it to the next level.
Creating the energy to begin is a leader’s first and most important task. If people put as much energy into starting something big as they put into badmouthing ideas, raising concerns or complaining about others, they would be surprised at themselves.
If you want to do Epic Stuff, you will need to believe in yourself as much as you believe in the goal. Otherwise it will not be successful. As soon as you are one hundred percent convinced that the opportunity is there and the trail can be blazed, then resistance is not a problem. Then resistance is another learning experience. Only as soon as your conviction can be felt on the outside, it can pass on to others. Furthermore: Nobody is perfect – and that is a good thing. To develop yourself further, you put one foot in front of the other in a disciplined manner until you reach your goal.
- Set common goals
When Corona came along, it was exactly the time for many companies to set the objectives for the year 2020. The main goals that are intended to motivate employees and help them stay focused. This should urgently be revived, if not already done. In all activities, everyone should ask themselves again and again: Which of the things I have spent all day working on today will contribute to my big goal? It’s all about focus, not about increasing efficiency. It’s also not about more goals, but about the quality of a goal.
- Mental coaching for peak performance
Goals can serve as a solid anchor in uncertain times: Once you set goals, you have more self-control, more chances for self-determination. I can decide for myself what I think about. Mental coaching, which is already widely used wherever top performance is required, can help in this respect. One of the most important instruments is the so-called visualization. With this technique, a future situation is imagined as intensively as if it were already real. It is as if a film is running in your head, which already shows the future event in all its facets. The goal is already mentally anticipated, and subsequently the brain operates as if it had already experienced this situation before. So create a vision with your employee that is emotional and appeals to all senses.
- Refocus on the essential
A crisis presents a good opportunity to re-focus on the actual, major company goal. Focusing on an important goal equals clarity, concentration and persistence. Focus requires stamina from everyone involved. We need to learn to get away from the hectic pace of business and find out how to achieve big goals in a concentrated and yet relaxed manner. This requires a large portion of courage. Courage to say “no” more often in order to have more energy for the one “yes” – the big goal. Epic Stuff is always the result of focus.
You can’t do without focus. If you want to achieve something big in a company, you should choose one big goal and stick to it consistently. When employees know why they are here, why it is worth working towards a goal, they are more motivated and productive.
- Show appreciation for each other
The sudden appearance of the Corona crisis was a challenge not only for the management but also and especially for the employees. Closed kindergartens and schools, the healthcare service that no longer comes, existential fears within the family: It may be that the focus of individual employees has shifted more to the private sphere, because a social framework that was believed to be stable has collapsed. This should first be acknowledged.
As a leader, it is your task to not reproach employees for not being focused enough, but to appreciate when they were. Speak openly about this in the team. Everyone has found new strategies for focusing during their time in the home office. It may be that the skills learned will make everyone more efficient in their everyday office life. Social distancing may have led to employees feeling less connected to each other. As a leader, you help to restore this connection and to emphasize again and again that you are a team that cares about each other.
- Be aware of your role model function and responsibility as a leader more than ever
Take the time to talk to each and every employee. Address their fears and worries and give them the opportunity to express concerns and contribute ideas.
At the same time, it is important that you demonstrate positive thinking, give the employees support and show them that it can often be a good way to just go ahead and try things out. A crisis is always an opportunity as well. Perhaps it is even the greatest opportunity that has ever existed to do things differently. The crisis can possibly be the starting point to rethink habits and routines or to break through rigid systems and speed up decisions. It creates innovations that can be maintained after the crisis.
- Refocusing corporate management
The same applies to corporate management: What can it learn from the crisis? What went surprisingly well, what do we want to be better prepared for, what weaknesses have come to light? Make a checklist and classify what you have experienced and what you have learned.
While we are still in the crisis, the time should now be used well to derive measures that will outlast the crisis. Many companies were forced to switch to mobile working from now on, to expand their IT infrastructure so that all employees can continue to access it simultaneously from outside. These are examples that show how flexibly and quickly seemingly ponderous ships can be navigated through the crisis. This is something to remember, and something to keep in mind for the future. Stay healthy and focused.
About the book
This interview is an excerpt from the book „DO EPIC STUFF! – Leadership after Change Management”, published by Campus Verlag. Transformation expert René Esteban explains together with senior leaders of today’s business world how to achieve challenging goals together. Learn more about the book and order it directly.
About the author
René Esteban is the founder and CEO of the consulting company FocusFirst GmbH. With his team he supports executives in the global corporate environment to achieve their most challenging goals with focus and inspiration – and at the same time to develop the corporate culture towards more empathy and humanity.