How to lead through challenging times – 6 key traits you need

COVID-19 has definitely impacted our day to day lives and in particularly, the way we do business. Not too dissimilar to the GFC and other significant challenging times, it is reminding us all of the importance of embracing change with open arms, leaving the familiarity of comfort zones and thinking outside of the box.

This month we are going to be focusing on:

  • What are the critical things as a leader that you should be focusing on to take your business through these ‘unprecedented times’…(apologies, yes another buzz word of the moment that I am sure everyone is sick of hearing) and
  • What are the expected people challenges ahead?
  • How do you get yourself into the right mindset when you are balancing just getting your head around the ‘current situation’? and
  • 9 principles to help drive innovation.


What are the 6 critical leadership qualities that will assist/take your business through these ‘unprecedented times’?


1. Thinking innovatively about new possibilities.

Learning ways for you and your team to think outside the box can help determine how your business responds to crisis situations. Pivoting or disrupting your business, products or services is a skill that needs to be learnt and is extremely powerful if you can teach your teams how to do it so you have more heads on it than just yourself.

2. Goal Setting, managing your time and making decisions quickly.

Defining what you want and need to focus on has never been important than it is now. Understanding clearly what is critical and what will deliver results is fundamental to your overall success. While clearly, there may need to be some adjustments based on recent events, it is critical to not lose the ability to focus on the medium and long term potential to maximise opportunities. Ensuring you have the right plan in place that suits your business or division is fundamental in getting everyone on the same page around what is important.

Crisis situations (including this one) has demonstrated very clearly those business leaders that are able to make quick decisions and those who are not. The inability to make a decision or overthinking may be the difference between a business succeeding or failing. Having clear decision charters or criteria to make decisions against are critical to reduce procrastination and move forward with confidence.

3. Setting standards and values and building accountability.

Once you have clear goals in place, it is critical that you review the required standards, values and measures of success in order to build accountability and connection to them. Understanding your mission and required outputs can be more beneficial than simply defining responsibilities however if you can also clearly articulate your required behaviours and how you and your team want to achieve them, it will significantly improve your working environment and workplace relationships.

4. Establishing an open feedback culture.

Providing an environment where everyone feels safe to provide feedback, share how they are feeling and not be scared of offering new ideas or suggest development opportunities is not only critical in times of uncertainty and change but all the time.

Developing your company and team appetite and skill to both give and receive feedback in the right spirit is critical to setting an open feedback culture.

5. Managing Performance, conduct and productivity humanely.

Getting onto performance, conduct and/or productivity issues early is critical in addressing these areas humanely but even more importantly, changing these behaviours and/or habits and/or skills.

Properly understanding how to develop your team and commence a performance improvement process can be the difference between keeping and growing a team member to negative outcome such as an industrial or workers compensation claim or continued poor performance, negative attitude and considerable disruption to the team.

6. Motivating your team and yourself.

Keeping yourself motivated and finding consistent rhythms around rewarding and recognising your team is critical to building connectivity, trust and a positive workplace environment.

Also critical to this is understanding when you or your team are demotivated or flat and what you can do to turn this around. Self-Awareness and the ability to respond quickly is critical.