7 ways to lead your business, your team, or even your family during COVID-19

written for Pebble Tossers by Jeff Hilimire

This is a scary time for all of us. None of us were prepared for a crisis of such magnitude, and we’re all working hard to keep our families, our companies, and even our sanity together.

I wrote my book, The Crisis Turnaround, in an attempt to help people navigate through these uncertain times. While the book is focused on leadership (of a team or a business), the principles can be applied to many areas of life, including raising a family or overseeing a nonprofit.

Here are seven of the concepts that I lay out in the book that might help you persevere through this pandemic:

#1 – Have open conversations

One of the first things I’ve had to remind myself while running my business, Dragon Army, through this crisis has been to have open conversations with my team. My thinking is: you cannot communicate enough with your team when times are hard.

This goes for my family as well. I have five children (ages 8 – 15) and, as you might expect, they all have different concerns and questions. I’ve found that the more we talk, and the more honest my wife and I are, the more they can process their feelings and be prepared for what’s to come.

#2 – Focus on the foundation

In business, there’s a saying that “cash is king”. What this means is that cash is the lifeblood of your business, and without it, your business will dissolve. Some companies, mine included, would argue that culture is just as critical as cash. While each business is different, they are all similar in that they have certain basic needs that must be met for them to function.

For a family, that foundation might be things like family dinners, Friday night pizza and game nights, worship & faith, etc. You know, the good stuff that brings your family together and provides unique connection points. Every family has them and during a crisis, it can be easy to lose sight of those foundational elements.
Take a moment to pause, step back, and remember to ensure your foundation is on a strong footing.

#3 – Optimize your time

When our schedules are thrown into disarray, and our normal lives are disrupted, it can be easy to fall prey to a lack of motivation or ambition. This is true for businesses and for families.

In The Crisis Turnaround, the characters in the book work at a business and are forced to find ways to manage their time and workload in an entirely new situation: working from home, by themselves. They reschedule their days, look for tricks and tips to optimize their time, and rely on each other for accountability.

For families, time optimization is critical. As parents, you’re forced to manage not only your calendar and to-do’s but also your children’s schedule. When doing so, I find the following good things to focus on:

Be purposeful and deliberate
Allow for freedom within the schedule
Focus on consistency
Create opportunities for rewards (achievements for completion)

#4 – Listen, but not too much

It’s important to stay on top of the news, especially during the time of a health-related crisis. Being informed is critical as you navigate your day and attempt to stay safe.

That said, it can be easy to fall into the trap of information overload, especially during times like these. Too much negative data can lead to a sense of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and anxious.

Carve out time to check the news, see what’s happening in your social feeds, and then…put it away. There are even apps that can help you by monitoring your activity and putting thresholds on how much time you spend on certain sites/apps. However you do it, don’t get sucked into the seemingly minute-by-minute deluge of news we have access to today.

#5 – Learn to pivot

In business, a pivot is an action that a business takes to change its course, usually when it realizes a change needs to take place for it to survive. Oftentimes this is required during a particularly difficult time.
Change can be scary, but leaning into change can help a business, and a family, weather the storm they find themselves in. Look for ways to shift your S.O.P. (Standard Operating Procedure) in order to be more effective, both while working and also with your family.

For instance, you likely don’t have to get up as early as you used to since no one is rushing to catch the bus in the morning or fight traffic to get to work. So perhaps you’re sleeping in, and maybe that’s causing you to feel lazy (since sleeping later is what you do on your ‘day off’). That’s ok! Now you have a new time to get up, just make sure you embrace that and officially start your day when you wake up.

#6 – Find ways to do some good

Everyone likes to help others – it’s part of what makes us human. However, we can fall prey to taking our do-good efforts and putting them on the sideline while we make our way through a tough time.

I would argue that doing good during difficult times is just what the doctor ordered. In The Crisis Turnaround, the characters decide that they will take a day to help several nonprofits in their area, even while they are struggling to maintain a profit. The result is massive: the team is energized and motivated, and their community is better off for it.
Find a way to allow your family to do some good during this crisis. I promise it will help in ways you can’t even imagine.

#7 – Stay positive

It can be hard to stay positive during difficult times. But as the leader – of your business, your team, or your household – you should work hard to focus on the positive things that are taking place. And in almost all cases, there are positive aspects to your struggles.

For example, while during this particular crisis we are restricted from going out into our communities, the positive might be that you are able to spend more time together as a family. Or that you were able to clean out that closet (which you’ve been putting off for years, haven’t you?). Or that you’re eating healthier foods because you can’t eat at your favorite restaurant right now.

Your team (or family) is looking to you to see how to respond to this crisis. Show them that there are bright spots and that, all things being equal, you have it pretty good right now.

In conclusion, I think you’ll find that if you’re more purposeful about your time and more focused on how to lean into these changes vs. fighting against them, you just might come out of this crisis better than when you entered it.

About the author:

Jeff Hilimire
CEO | Author

Jeff Hilimire is an accomplished entrepreneur who has launched multiple successful for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and who has successfully sold two companies. His current business, Dragon Army, is one of the fastest-growing digital agencies in the nation. Over the course of 20 years, Jeff has applied his knowledge of entrepreneurship and innovation to help guide leaders from some of the most well-known global brands to mobilize growth using an entrepreneurial mentality. He is also the co-founder of 48in48, a global nonprofit that produces hackathon events to build 48 nonprofit websites in 48 hours.

When Jeff isn’t running Dragon Army, mentoring, or volunteering at 48in48, he is working hard as the founder of Ripples of Hope, a collection of for-profit and nonprofit organizations focused on business as a force for good in the world. Jeff is also an accomplished author, and his books, The 5-Day Turnaround & The Crisis Turnaround, are a reflection of his drive and personal purpose to have an outsized, positive impact on the world.

Jeff lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his lovely wife, Emily, and their five children.
See the many other ways he’s worked to help leaders increase their satisfaction and success via his personal blog, jeffhilimire.com.