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How to be a responsible leader during a crisis
October 15, 2020

An international crisis, like the coronavirus pandemic, introduces unprecedented challenges. In times of crisis, businesses require new approaches to leadership to address these challenges and emerge stronger.

It is important to address these changes in leadership responsibly and ethically. Here are a few recommendations for leading with integrity and transparency during a crisis.

Refer to your values

Remembering your values will help you to address the issues facing your business and your community. Understanding and demonstrating your values and your integrity will reinforce your leadership and provide a model to others. Additionally, your vision will be supported by a strong foundation.

Reassess your goals

The Center for Ethical Leadership at the University of Notre Dame encourages leaders to be humble during a time of crisis and to resist the impulse to fix everything right away. “Crises are full of uncertainty. Resist the temptation to have all the answers. It’s not what is best for you, your followers, or your organization.”

A crisis, such as the global pandemic, is a time for all leaders to reflect, reassess their goals, and determine the best processes to address those goals. Stress and anxiety during a setback are inevitable as well. When you provide proper space for reflection to address how to take care of yourself and your team, you will be able to bounce back more easily and focus on your goals to lead more effectively.

Respect community

Ann Skeet, the senior director of leadership ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, spoke with the YLAI team about how to be an ethical leader and the importance of investing in your community. She reiterated the message that during a pandemic, “leaders who can elicit in followers a sense of connection to their community are essential in a public health crisis.” She encourages you to ask yourself if you are strengthening the relationships you have in the community. Building community and supporting community values is essential in a crisis, as you will be able to organize more effectively together.

A crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic is uncharted territory. Know that you are not going through it alone and you are not expected to know what to do right away. Let your ethics guide you during this time. Keeping true to your values, considering your community, and giving yourself time to reflect will ensure that you are leading with integrity and with a strong foundation.

More resources on leading ethically during a crisis: