By: Arlin Sorensen, VP Ecosystem Evangelism, ConnectWise
During my 42-year business career, I have experienced my share of economic downturns, disasters both natural and man-made and simply general business hiccups. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique crisis for businesses, but leadership tactics need to remain the same. For example, in 1977, at the start of my farming career, I learned the value of advice from an external expert on insurance before I lost crops due to a drought. During the Great Recession in 2008, we learned to hire executive leaders with various strengths and leveraged previous experience that would help us weather the economic downturn. When it came time to rebrand my business as a managed service provider in 2011, I lost excellent clients and great employees. It was the right move in order to keep pace with the changing market demand needed to stay in business
Whether you are facing an economic crisis or a shift in business focus, there are plenty of things business leaders can do to instill confidence in the people around them. Below are five tips I have gathered over the course of my career. Hopefully, they can help you and your executive team navigate the current situation we find ourselves in.
1. Self-care is important for leadership
The most important thing you can do for yourself is get enough sleep, proper and regular exercise, put down the electronics, and spend time with family and friends. Self-care is vital to greater success. You cannot effectively lead your organization through a crisis if you yourself are not well. The stress of trying to lead an organization through a crisis without self-care can render you ineffective. We must provide some rest and relief to set ourselves free from a consistently stressful and connected environment.
2. Rely on your team
Unless you are a micro business, you have other people in your organization to rely on. My experience is that people step up when the going gets tough, if we let them. If you’re being a super human action figure and trying to solve the world’s problems on your own, they can only stand back and watch. If you bring your team into whatever discussion you are having, allowing them to see planning and execution strategies, you will see how more valuable your team members are to you and know what they are capable of.
3. Planning and preparation are key
Some of the worst business decisions are made when emotions direct the outcome. Planning and preparing ahead of a crisis is one of the most important things you can do as a business leader. The best way to plan and prepare is to brainstorm actionable strategies with your leadership team. Walk through a number of “what-if” scenarios that can be rapidly executed at a moment’s notice. This helps you and your team make fact-based decisions, not decisions grounded in emotion. Without proper planning and preparation, you might have a knee-jerk reaction to a crisis without thought as to how it might impact the organization. Proper planning and preparation prevents this.
4. Communicate carefully
Communication is crucial, but it can also be the ‘Achilles Heel’ of leadership. It is irresponsible to think that teams and clients automatically know what to do to help them succeed – it just doesn’t happen. If you want your teams and clients to succeed, communicate truthful information to avoid them having to guess and fill voids with inaccurate information. When people are under stress and anxiety, clarity of information is essential at the very front end so information is not misconstrued.
5. Personal ideals can be beneficial
Some people tend to leave their ideals at the door when they are at work in favor of a more professional demeanor. Whether personal practices to stay healthy, organized, composed in stressful situations, or even motivated – leaving those at the door means losing a critical part of who you are and makes you far less able to lead well. Don’t dismiss those ideals and standards, especially in the face of a crisis.
Arlin Sorensen is Vice President of Ecosystem Evangelism at ConnectWise and is responsible for leading the brand advocacy strategy for ConnectWise, while serving as a thought leader to the IT services community. In his role, Arlin contributes to peer group strategies, platform development, and is an ambassador to the ConnectWise strategy. Arlin has more than 30 years of experience in the IT world and is widely recognized for his contribution to partners on their entrepreneurial journey. He continues to assist IT Nation members with their business and personal growth, while helping them achieve their overall goals. Arlin’s technology career began with the launch of his own managed service provider company. He joined the ConnectWise team after HTG Peer Groups, an organization he founded in 2000, now known as IT Nation Evolve, was acquired in January 2018.