Leading teams through crisis

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This is a brief summary of articles from Harvard Business Review, offering insights into leading your team through times of crisis. The summary will get you up to speed quickly, and the links to the full articles are there if you want the full story.

How to Reassure Your Team When the News Is Scary

Communicating in the face of uncertainty is a constant leadership challenge. Allison Shapira provides five steps to be effective in managing high-stakes communications to multiple audiences simultaneously.

  1. Pause and breathe. Take a moment before speaking to be clearheaded and level-headed.
  2. Put yourself in the Audience Shoes. For example, use language like “I know many of you may be thinking…”
  3. Do your research. Seek out credible sources, read fully before distilling into clear concise language. Share the sources.
  4. Speak clearly and confidently. This includes confidently expressing doubt. For example “The matter is still unfolding, but what we understand so far is this. “
  5. Have specific next steps. Discuss your own next steps or recommending steps to your audience gives a sense of control.

Full article:

Shapira, A, (2020). How to Reassure Your Team When the News Is Scary. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/03/how-to-reassure-your-team-when-the-news-is-scary

Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis

This article by Reeves, Lang & Carlsson-Szlezak offers lessons on analysing data, communicating information, and protecting your employees. These include:

  1. Update intelligence on a daily basis. Events are unfolding with astounding speed. Constantly reframe your understanding. Consider a living document or website with timestamped “Best Current view”
  2. Beware of hype cycles and use experts and forecasts carefully. This is unpredictable and unique. There will be multiple often polarised opinions. think critically about sources.
  3. Beware Bureaucracy. Assemble a small trusted team with enough leeway to make rapid decisions.
  4. Balance your response across multiple dimensions, including:
    • Communications
    • Employee needs
    • Travel
    • Remote Work
    • Supply Chain
    • Business Tracking and forecasting
    • Being part of the broader solution (As a corporate citizen support others)
    • Use resilience principles in developing policies, including Redundancy, Diversity, and Modularity
  5. Prepare now for the next crisis. Reflect on what you’ve learned. Document responses and impacts, when the crisis subsides reflect on organisational responses, strengths, and weaknesses.

Full article:

Reeves,M., Lang, N., Carlsson-Szlezak, P., (2020). Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/02/lead-your-business-through-the-coronavirus-crisis


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Matt is the Market Development Manager at QUTeX and has considerable experience in client relationships, in senior leadership roles and in development of new educational products. Matt has over 16 years experience in the Education Industry with QUT and Federation University. Before entering the university sector Matt held senior project and program management positions with IBM and with WorldCom where he was responsible for the set-up of international program management offices. Matt holds an Executive MBA from QUT.

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