Build and Live the vision during a time of crisis: An Application of Propulo’s Safe Production Leadership Model
By Madison Hanscom, Ph.D.
When faced with a crisis, it is up to leaders to lay out and live the vision for employees. Where you place emphasis will demonstrate what the company values during a time of uncertainty. Building and living the vision means painting a picture for employees of desired performance and including organizational values in everyday interactions. Think about what you want employees to come away with during a time of hardship and what you want this message to be: Struggle or resiliency? Panic or preparedness? Leaders play a central role in rallying employees around a common purpose or vision. This is particularly important during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider the following:
- Provide followers with a sense of vision and mission — Great leaders have a safety vision. Adapt your existing vision to include navigating current crisis if needed. Draw connections between the current values of the company, how this relates to the crisis at hand, and the plan of recovery. This will help to give purpose to you employees’ work. If you don’t already have a safety vision, this is a great time to build one, and continue communicating it after the crisis has resolved. Difficult times present an opportunity to create sustainable change and improvement. The goal should not be to just bounce back to the way things were once the crisis is over.
- Focus on the horizon — Work to paint a compelling picture of the future and what it will take to get there. Even though it is important to focus on what is happening in the moment, do not lose sight of the long term. The recovery period and the “new normal” that comes after the crisis are just as critical. Taking a long view means aligning your values (and those from executive leadership) to the imagined future of the company as a way to embrace and shape the desired future.
- Bring the vision to life — Having a vision isn’t enough. It is important to communicate it, illustrate it, and ensure everyone understands what it looks like. Convey your messages related to the vision in a way that is relatable, assessable, and inspiring. Get specific and paint a picture. For instance, it can be useful to create a metaphor or tell a story to bring the vision to life. This could include a vivid description of what the imagined future will look like after goals are reached.
- Offer structure — As you offer this compelling vision, help your people understand their role in getting there. This is where they will need some specifics. Work with them to set macro and micro goals, and show them recognition when targets are met. Don’t be afraid to approach this process with resiliency by adapting goals as needed. Your followers will appreciate the accuracy that comes with this attention to detail as the environment is rapidly changing.
These principles hold true during times of prosperity, crisis, and also the transitional periods in between. Times of change and recovery can be difficult, but by demonstrating these leadership competencies in a consistent manner, leaders can work towards building a successful “new normal”.
Read more from this blog series:
At Propulo, we work with leaders to develop micro-habits associated with effective leadership behaviors. We can help your company make safety “who we are” instead of “something we do.”