Ethical Crisis Leadership | How to lead in midst of crisis and change

We have to recognize and understand that we are in a global crisis, which cannot go ignored. In everything we do, we are being affected.

As a leader, I have not exactly been in a situation like this and have been taking it day by day. I am having to learn how to problem solve in new ways for our collective and be a bit more proactive than normal, trying my best to project and anticipate our next move. One of my priorities is to ensure the safety of our artisans and staff and on the other hand, I have to consider how to keep our collective above water, so when our doors reopen, well, they can reopen. With uncertain revenue streams in the coming months, it makes a lot of uncontrollable arise and I have to ensure we are making wise as well as creative/innovative decisions in the next coming weeks.

All that to say, it has tested a new strand of leadership for me.

Ethical Crisis Leadership.
With my academic background in leadership development and communication, I tend to live and breathe all things leadership. I have spent the last decade studying ethical leadership, transformational leadership, servant leadership, adaptive leadership and many more, but I have never encountered a leadership that is completely transformed by a crisis.

As soon as COVID-19 entered our world, I started grabbing resources and reading about crisis management, ethical leadership (redefined), and leading in a culture of change.

I wanted to understand what it was going to take to be even more resilient, evoke confidence in our team, and continue to run our collective with our highest standards even in the midst of this pandemic. This could easily turn into a research analysis, which is not my intention for this blog and for you to endure…

(note: unless, you love research then give me a call and I can chat your ear off for hours! Perfect time to spend quarantining – geeking out over theories while sipping fresh coffee)

What I do want to leave you with in this blog is a bit of advice on how to effectively lead a team during a culture of change and crisis.

Understand that in a crisis, there are three stages and throughout each stage, you have to show up fully. As the leader, you have moral obligations to carry out and you want to ensure that you continue to lead a healthy organization or team through this. The three stages of a crisis are: pre-crisis, crisis event, and post-crisis.

Pre-crisis:
This is normally the longest stage in any crisis and many times, leaders get overly confident that they have all the solutions. This is where we need to be careful and not grow complacent or allow any human biases (decision making or judgement) to hinder our critical thinking processes.

In this time, ethical leaders show up big. They normally help detect the crisis, identify pain points and continually develop strategies. They are constantly learning, growing and looking for long term solutions rather than just the short term. They are identifying trends and trying to stay ahead of the curve, while leading their team with the right information. Most of the time, a crisis management plan is put into place and through this planning it allows for the leader to keep moral principles aligned as they plan during a new territorial time.

Crisis Event:
This is where ethical leaders are the most involved and active. They are leading in a crisis and the reality is focusing on damage control and the immediate threats that are affecting the individuals and/or organization around them. This is where the crisis management plan is put into place, but it is also a time where the leader is giving accurate information to those around them. During a crisis, there is a lot of misinformation and false news that circulates, so it is of utmost importance for the ethical leader to be transparent, sharing the most appropriate and true information to date. This is a time for the leader to shed light on the situation, enact a plan and calm fears through proper solutions. Take deep breathes and take it day by day as this stage can also be the most physically and mentally exhausting.

Post-Crisis:
This is a time of reflection and regrouping. As an ethical leader, it is a time to reflect on what was done right, make notes of what can be changed in the future, but more importantly to be there for your people. It is a time for healing to take place and as leaders, a time to listen and be there for your direct community. This stage is a time to renew focus and replace negative emotions of stress and anxiety with positive ones. Ethical leaders pay attention to details and shape memories around a crisis to honor those around them, while finding ways to heal and take steps forward.

Overall, understand that through these three stages, as leaders we have to be adaptive, flexible and show up BIG in ethical crisis leadership. Here are my 3 practical tips for you to be able to work through these phases:

1. Understand the Change
In everything, understand the change going on around you. Try not to be negatively affected by media, but have your facts correct. People are looking to you for answers and what the next step will be, so you want to be giving the most accurate and up to date information to your people. Stay in tune, so you are able to communicate the changed vision and empower those around you during a time of uncertainty.

2. Moral Purpose
Keep integrity. Through it all, being an ethical crisis leader is challenging and comes with its own stresses, but this is a time to shine. Allow your moral compass to never change. Be a moral agent for your community and help others overcome opposition through your positive character and courage. It is a time to show up and be the moral motivation that everyone needs during a time like this.

3. Be Sensitive
Everyone is affected differently in a crisis, so be an active listener, change perspectives by putting yourself in their shoes and practice humility. This is a time to reflect servant leadership and be there for your community in a new way. In all the phases, know people are looking up to you and it is our time to show a more sensitive side to our leadership, if you do not already.

You got this friend. Stay strong, true and be the ethical crisis leader you were meant to be.
We are in this together, always.

From one leader to another,

Surviving third-trimester pregnancy while chasing two kiddos around

This may be a shocker, but I am blogging about something other than the reality that surrounds us. In the midst of everything, life still goes on and for my “normal” reality, I am 33 weeks pregnant, daily getting more tired and still chasing around two kiddos. There is a lot that I am processing in regard to decisions that have to be made for Imani Collective and our staff, but more importantly, I am first a mother.

That brings me to the topic of the day, surviving being pregnant while still being a present mother to a soon to be four-year-old and toddler! That is right, while everyone is giving you survival tips of how to stock up properly, I am here to give you day to day mama survival tips.

1. Give yourself Grace.
This is probably what I have to daily work on the most is giving myself grace through every circumstance. Every day looks different and I know that as I get closer to meeting my third baby, I am more tired than normal. I desire to be able to keep up with my kiddos or sit down on the ground with them for long durations of time and at this point, my body is denying me all that. It is still strong, but it is increasingly tired and sore lately, so I have to remind myself to display grace, always.

2. Rest – nap when they do.
For all my mamas who are used to being workhorses and super productive (me!), this piece advice can be hard, but truly start to listen to your body and rest. There will come a time when baby comes, body heals, and energy is restored. Until then, rest when you can and play hard when your soul allows.

3. Get outside (or in this time – open a window).
Not sure where you are in the world during this time that this might be limited, so if you can’t get outside then open a window and let the breeze hit your face. Get some good vitamins from the sun and remember that sun was created for our enjoyment. See the beauty in the little things – sun, breeze, pitter patter of feet and laughter. Instead of seeing the clutter of toys, see the happiness of a house lived in well. Being pregnant, while still mothering littles can be hard, but do not forget to find the joy in their silliness, and little smiles.

4. Take it Easy.
You are literally growing another baby inside of you, so take it easy. Pregnancy is a lot. (I am preaching to myself right now) If there is laundry that needs attending to and you just do not have the energy, it is okay. If you decide to make grilled cheeses for dinner instead of a gourmet meal, guess what? It is okay, your kids actually might like it better (oops, did I say that?) Overall, do not be afraid to give yourself a break, aka “grace”, and take it easy mama.

5. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
We are in this together and as your body goes through changes, do not be afraid to ask for help. Whether that is watching the kids for a couple of hours to get some extra sleep or maybe it is picking the kids from school. There are people around you, in your community waiting to come alongside and step in. We just have to ask.

You got this mama. We all got this. Just take it one day at a time.

From the tired, swollen feet mama – sending love,