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Setting the Tone – Positive Leadership Under Pressure

Apr 2, 2020 4:58:14 PM / by John Kouten, CEO

The flow of negative Coronavirus news is non-stop. We are being asked to shelter in place, and if we emerge for necessary provisions or simply to get fresh air, we are required to socially distance. And depending on what models you follow; the worst is yet to come.

Despite these grim realities, it is incumbent on leaders to set a positive tone for its organization in order to command control and instill confidence. Regardless if we are a small business or multi-national corporation, or a non-profit or academic organization, our key publics demand answers, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Speed and Consistency
During a crisis, rapid communication is preferable to silence. Employees, customers, venders and other key publics will experience fear and uncertainty. It is better to communicate what you know, now than to wait. Establish your voice as a positive role model for your organization. Engage your publics as often as necessary. A simple pan-company voice mail will do wonders for morale. Interactive virtual townhalls will enable leaders to deliver positive messages and take questions from key constituents.

It is also vital to keep customers apprised of any issues quickly. And it is best practice to keep all venders apprised of what is going on to instill confidence and limit rumors.

Use Technology
Regardless if your organizations are essential and folks are on the front lines delivering service, or your company is non-essential, and folks are working from home, you can easily employ tech tools to communicate effectively to everyone simultaneously. In order to ensure comprehensive reach to all interested publics, virtual meeting technology has become a vital communications tool.

There are a Myriad of virtual meeting technology platforms. Your needs will dictate which virtual tech platform is best.

Listen to Learn
Convene daily briefings (or, more often if necessary) with key functions to ensure the organization is aware of all issues. It is vital to listen to your key publics in order to solve problems rapidly. Some organizations can simply call employees, customers and other constituents. Larger organizations can set up dedicated lines for quick response, or Intranet portals designed to triage issues rapidly.

Be Honest
There is no worse way to set the wrong tone than by being dishonest. The best time for honesty is early and often. Key publics may not like the message, but they will appreciate that it was delivered with care, humility, speed and compassion. Bad news feels worse when its uncovered through the rumor mill.

Be Grateful
Regardless of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on your organization, it is vital to lead with gratitude. Remind your teams of all that is being done and all that will be done to defeat this virus. Express gratitude for the help we can give to each other and the help we can receive from others during the crisis. Most of us can shelter in place and possess the resources to ride out this COVID-19 storm. Remind others to think of those less fortunate and help where possible.

Topics: crisis communications, issues management, healthcare pr

John Kouten, CEO

Written by John Kouten, CEO