John J. Murphy
During a time of crisis, certain fundamental leadership characteristics become increasingly important. The COVID-19 pandemic has led us to be incomplete lockdown, surrounding us with fear, ambiguity, and doubt.
What does it take to lead a small business through this crisis?
Lead with passion, courage, and faith. Recognize that the fear-based thought-system does not help during times of crisis. People do not want to follow a fearful leader. Allow yourself to be an instrument of peace and a channel of wisdom. Do this by allowing your inner energy to flow, filling it with passion and courage. People around you will begin to feel different. They will feel more confident, more optimistic, more creative, and more inspired.
Be mindful of time and opportunity. Recognize that we still have the same amount of time in a day. 24 hours. What are you going to do with it? Will you waste it on unproductive activities and distractions, or will you allocate it to new opportunities? If you are a musician, is it time to write that original song you’ve been thinking of? If you operate a manufacturing facility, is it time to offer something the world desperately needs? If you are a business manager, is it time to offer a course online? One thing is for certain: There has never been a shortage of opportunity. Step back, relax, and open your mind to the endless possibilities knocking on your door.
Connect the dots. Entrepreneurs and small-business owners generally start their businesses by applying instinct, intuition, and strategic thinking. We recognize the opportunity by seeing patterns and linking one to another. We ask questions like “What if?” and “Why not?” We borrow best practices from industry to industry. What can we do to eliminate some of the limiting beliefs holding us back? Maybe this crisis is giving us more time to think—and to challenge the way we do it!
Use this time to pull together. There is no better time to unite and reinforce the power of teamwork. When we cultivate a shared vision and purpose, we amplify the energy it takes to manifest results. This is called synergy when one plus one equals something greater than two. Great leaders and business owners pull people together and generate synergy.
Concentrate on the “Wow!” Ask your team, “What can we do as a business to wow our customers, to give them something beyond expectation?” No one is “wowed” anymore when the car starts on the first attempt or when the lights turn on after we flip the switch. These outcomes are expected. We wow people when there is an unexpected value. Use this time of isolation to explore creative ideas that will differentiate your business and boost customer experience. Outsmart the competition by finding new ways to reinvent your value proposition and market offering. Make yourself tough to copy.
Rise above the negativity and doubt. Consider the many positive outcomes of this viral attack on humanity—the healing of the planet, the renewed appreciation for a hug, the opportunity to step back, reflect, and reboot. Recognize that everything happens for a reason, a positive reason. Remain optimistic by refocusing attention. There is no problem without a solution. Find the solution.
Lead with support. A gardener knows that a lily requires sunlight, water, and nutrients to grow. It also needs obstacles—like weeds—to be removed. There must be a nourishing environment and a clear path for growth. Successful entrepreneurs and business leaders understand this truth. We have an obligation to give our teams a healthy culture, an environment where they can flourish with hope and enthusiasm. Be the enlightened leader who brings out the best in others by removing obstacles of fear, resistance, and doubt.
The world is calling for inspirational leadership.
John J. Murphy is the founder and CEO of Venture Management Consultants, Inc. and is the author of Miracle Minded Manager: A Modern-Day Parable about How to Apply “A Course in Miracles” in Business.