No matter the crisis, whether COVID-19 or something more local to our community, our first priority must be how we minister to people.
Having current and real information is key to making necessary decisions in the moment. Answer the question, based on what we know, what is right, now? Don’t let all the other energy take you away from those things. Let’s do the things that impact the most. What ministers to the most people, or creates the most revenue or margin?
It helps to show compassion by starting every bit of communication with a you-centered message instead of a me-centered or business-centered message. Let people know you understand what they’re going through. Acknowledge the difficulty, and then speak to what is important to them. Let them know you’ll work together. Don’t tell them you need them to keep your ministry or business afloat; it’s about being in this together. Let people know you want to do everything you can to help them be successful. Ask them how you can help them. If you’re asking the question, it means you care. Together, we all end up in a better place.
During this time when people are struggling with how rapidly things are evolving, we need to think differently about how people think about change. People don’t dislike change; they don’t like how we try to change them. People change their haircuts, shoes, where they live, what they eat, lose weight, what they learn. During this time, let people see why staying here is not acceptable. Help people see why we can’t stay the same. We need to help them understand why where we’re going is better. You’re going to have your critics, your advocates and bystanders. Your why is important and will help move people along.
When this season is over, work on creating a culture that doesn’t resist change. The only thing that is certain is that things are going to change. We don’t improve without change. The why is the key to empowering a team to make the move toward a culture that embraces change.
When instituting a new crisis-caused strategy, be clear and walk it through as to the why you are leading this way. Acknowledge the why to protect and inform your team. Thank people for being flexible. If you’re clear about how you got to the decision, they’ll be more likely to buy into it. There’s no perfect decision to make right now. If we err on the side of caring for others, and explain it clearly, reasonable people will jump on board to help lead through the challenges.
It is also advisable to show your own vulnerability during this time; but practicing thoughtful, strategic vulnerability is key. Be wise. Be selective in what you say. Don’t fall apart in front of people who are looking to you, but empathize with them. You want to be vulnerable to connect with their hearts. Tell your team what is appropriate but with a posture of confidence that we will get through this. Connect with their head and their heart. It’s empathy and confidence.
Finally, we are all concerned about those ministries and companies that will be making layoffs during this crisis. Many of you will be making those decisions, which is one of the hardest parts of any job. When you do make those painful decisions, commit to be as generous as possible. Don’t feel bad when you feel bad about it. Give yourself permission to hurt — cry! Be prepared to hurt. Don’t be afraid of the pain, but step into it as a leader.
Some businesses won’t make it. Some ministries will shut the doors. If you are one of those in this situation, remember it’s not over. Just because a business fails, it doesn’t make you a failure. As Zig Ziglar said, “Failure is an event, never a person.” You can rise again!
If you’re scared, welcome to the party. We’re all scared. I believe you are where you are because you were chosen to be where you are. You don’t have to know it all; you just have to show up and make the wisest decisions you know to make. You won’t get it all right, but be honest. Try to make the best decisions you can. Create value.
Leadership is not about you — it’s about your mission, and it’s about the people you lead. It’s going to take crazy courage and difficult decisions. You’ll question yourself. But recognize you are chosen for this.
We will get through this.
Craig Groeschel is the founder and senior pastor of Life.Church, an innovative church meeting in multiple U.S. locations and globally online. Traveling the world as a champion of The Global Leadership Summit, Craig Groeschel advocates to grow leaders in every sector of society. He is the host of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, the most listened to leadership podcast in the world. A New York Times best-selling author, his latest book is Dangerous Prayers.