- Tell a story of hope. Stories engage people more than anything else, but right now the story many are telling themselves is a negative one. Change the story by affirming that while this is an uncertain time, it will pass. It’s not wartime. And help individuals with their own inner story by encouraging and celebrating them.
- Create a Corona Campaign. Do not expect business as normal. Set a simple focus for the next 3 months, reduce your output, and provide clear expectations for your employees, customers and communities. Make this a mission that you galvanise people around.
- Use these three words, constantly: WE, US, OURS. They foster unity, nurture a healthy worldview, and increase engagement. Every time you use them, they are a micro-story that bring people together.
- Provide a psychological safety net. Let people know that there is a safety net to catch anyone who happens to need it. This reduces anxiety.
- Have a dedicated support crew for your employees. This crew focusses solely on clearing the barriers and solving problems for your employees, so that your employees can in turn focus on helping your customers and communities. Also known as scrum-masters, lynchpins, change managers, intra-preneurs, heroes.
- Offer the one thing you do best online, but make sure you involve people in it. People are more engaged by what they get to be a part of, so go small and social – see it as bringing people together – because people always value the platform that brings people together. Plus, big and broadcast is really crowded right now anyway, so unless you’re Netflix, you ain’t gonna win that one.
- Help people to help each other, and ask them to document it and share it. Beyond the essential service that you can still provide, ask people to help each other with the non-essentials, and to document what they do so that others can follow. (This has the extra effect of helping people feel meaningful and useful.)
- Anchor behaviours and values you want to foster in memorable phrases and actions. For instance, “flatten the curve”, or washing your hands while singing the happy birthday song twice. People will never ever do what they can’t remember.
- Share stories that inspire from your employees, customers and communities. We finish where we started: with story. Stories give us an example to follow, and give us hope that this will work out, so tell plenty of them. Remember, story trumps fact in terms of shaping our mind.
- Finally, remember that how leaders act now will be remembered for eternity. Don’t be the person who puts profit before people.
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