A quote that became popular during Winston Churchill’s era is now recalled to describe the recent COVID-19 pandemic and how the world leaders will be able to handle the situation: Cometh the hour, cometh the man. In a time like this, where millions of lives are at stake, and the economy is plummeting, policymakers, company executives, and different leaders around the globe are put to the test. The ‘hour’ has come again – in need of the right ‘men’ who will navigate us to and through this global crisis.
Indeed, the way through this crisis is not at all easy. Aside from the apparent dilemma of choosing the right way to take, leaders are also responsible for ensuring the public and convincing them to abide by the decisions that the government makes, such as social distancing guidelines, despite how much it has taken a toll on employment and other personal concerns. Making a wrong turn could easily damage trust and cause unrest that will ultimately aggravate the dangers that are being posed at present. Thus, it remains to be seen whether or not these world leaders will come out victorious in providing the necessary response to these devastating times.
But before anything, leaders must remember these two important principles so that their ‘command and control’ measures won’t be anything but a show of who’s boss. Leadership must begin with compassion, honesty, and transparency.
Sugar Coating Is A No-no.
This is one of the most common mistakes that a leader must avoid if they want to build trust instead of discord. This happens because policymakers think that when an unexpected crisis occurs, most of the public will panic and be overwhelmed, but studies have never backed this up. In fact, the chances that the public will panic because of what the government will tell them are quite low (panic buying is not included, though). A good leader, no matter how hard it may be, must be open about the problem that the community or the country is facing. He should not think of himself as a father protecting his children from harm. He must regard them as adults that can make a positive difference when the problem is given to them in complete detail. Level with them. Without transparency, people will eventually sense dishonesty, decreasing your accountability and, therefore, the trust in the government or organization’s policies.
Convey A Sense Of Purpose
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, South Korea made an exemplary presentation of the concepts of successful crisis management. It had begun to collect COVID-19 test kits years before a pandemic had hit its shores, and this had enabled them to test 10,000 of their citizens daily when the infection rate began to rise. They also utilized a mobile app that would update the people about the current situation. The country then has established the importance of having a sense of purpose, perhaps also because of the MERS outbreak that it has experienced in the past.
Most leaders still do not get to appreciate the essence of conveying a powerful message in the face of a crisis, specifically when it comes to transparency and consistency. They must not belittle the impact that their words can do to a people and a nation. Analysts agree that the content of a political speech is as vital as the final decision that a leader makes.
New York City Mayor Giuliani’s response to the 9/11 attacks is also an example of a great way to manage a crisis. He communicated honestly to the people and by appealing to them to show the real strength and courage of New Yorkers. This gave the public a sense of pride and morale that would have helped the city go through the grief and the whole situation as peacefully and successfully as it could have.
People need a leader that projects empathy and a clear understanding of what the situation is and to bring it to them with hope and confidence that together, the crisis can be dealt with and surpassed. It is perhaps quite a difficult feat for leaders, but if they can achieve it, and in this case, help their people overcome the challenges of COVID-19, then the people will feel visible and heard.