Whether you’re a corporate CEO or a small business owner, your leadership and management skills have been put to the test in 2020.
As the pandemic shook up the economy, it also shook up day-to-day business operations. Suddenly, employees were no longer just down the hall; they were working remotely from home. A routine office-supply order became an adventure because of disruptions to the supply chain. And customers and clients changed their spending habits, forcing many of us to rethink the products and services we offer, and the manner in which we deliver those products and services.
However, as important as your business savvy and financial expertise can be in riding out all the economic effects of the pandemic, other traits also come into play and may be just as essential.
One of those essential traits is courage.
Thirty years ago when I started my company, I probably would never have said it takes courage to lead a small business, but I assure you that without it you will fail. Unfortunately, I understand this firsthand. My public relations firm, like many businesses, endured tough economic times after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Revenue dropped and bankruptcy loomed as a real possibility.
I had to figure out how to turn my company around. It took courage, endurance and perseverance, but I knew I couldn’t go back. I had no choice but to go forward.
Courage is just one of what I call the five C’s for building and maintaining a successful business through the good times and bad. They’re the guiding principles I’ve learned through the ups and downs and all the mistakes. They worked for me back then, and I believe they can work for all of us during the difficulties we now face.
So what are those five C’s? In addition to courage, the others are:
- Caring: First, it’s important to care enough about yourself and your dreams to believe you can achieve success even in these daunting times. Just as important is caring about your staff and creating a positive work environment for them despite the troubles we face. Be supportive of them throughout this situation, which is bringing additional stress to everyone’s lives. Finally, a good business leader cares about customers. They, too, are under stress these days. Be willing to listen to their concerns, take responsibility for mistakes, and correct them.
- Confidence: Most people have faced and overcome challenges in life. The confidence that allowed them to prevail over those challenges needs to be brought into play in business more than ever. Believing you can reach for and achieve your short- and long-term goals is essential to getting you there. Maintaining your confidence is important to get through these unsettling times.
- Competence: The pandemic created all sorts of disruptions for companies in numerous industries. Some businesses, unfortunately, have been forced to downsize. If that’s the case for you, this may be the time to reorganize and tap into the skills and abilities of your remaining team that are different from the roles for which you hired them. That’s why it’s always important to have hired competent people who you can rely on no matter what the situation.
- Commitment: Stay dedicated to your goals no matter how difficult that becomes during these challenging conditions. There may be times when this will be not only difficult, but downright painful. That was the case for me during those tough times after the 9/11 attacks. I had to make drastic cuts, including letting go beloved employees. I never wanted to suffer a failure, and so I stayed committed to the goal and succeeded in pulling the business through those rough times.
As leaders face the current challenges, my message would be to stay the course, remain positive, and show compassion for everyone related to your business. Most of all, no matter how dismal it seems right now, remain confident that you’re going to get through it.