What Should be the Last Thing on a Leader’s Mind at This Time of COVID-19 Crisis

If you don’t get this right, your team will quickly realize that you are actually looking after yourself only

She survived a brutal colonial rule, a world war and several famines, but still shone as the guiding light to her large family of descendants. How? She was able to create that bond of trust with those she led. Symbolic representation of a real-life character. Photo by Grzegorz Jacek Rokicki.

Bonus and KPI. Yes, annual bonus for achieving your Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

Regardless of what you do, your financial results are going to take a hit. But this is not the time to think about this. Rather you should look into the well-being of your team, especially those who are at the lowest rungs of your organizational hierarchy.

We all know how corporates like to see crisp and rosy forecasts and hate to hear bad news. And how to please them to secure a sizable bonus for ourselves. After all, that’s how many of us have risen to where we are today.

But at this time of crisis, don’t even think about your own performance bonus or KPI. Trust me, if you do your team will immediately realize it. I am sure you wouldn’t want that.

So, what should you be doing instead?

Show empathy. Remember, many of your employees don’t have the means to isolate themselves to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19. Many are worried about their job security, loss of pay, or even the possibility of contracting the disease. Stand by them. Make it clear that no one is going to lose their job, regardless of the financial performance of the company due to the COVID-19 fallout.

Take a pay cut for yourself, not a nominal but a real one. Invite other leaders to follow, but don’t impose. Keep all senior managers’ bonuses on hold, no matter how well deserved those might be.

If you do things right, your team will work twice as hard once they overcome this crisis. And your bonus will shoot to new heights in the years to come.

Take my word on this. I have lived in such crises several times in the past. And achieved much more than mere bonuses or promotions.

True leadership emerges from hard times. This time let it be yours.



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Sayeed Ahmed

Travels and writes as a hobby on history, culture, politics, and contemporary issues.