Priorities change during a time of a crisis. Yes, there will be actions leaders needs to urgently attend to harden their business for the impact of this crisis. Still, it’s important to escape the habitual patterns that occupied your calendar before the crisis and turn more of your attention in your professional context toward caring for others.

Below was my encouragement to my CEO forum mates for their consideration, informed by my experience in leading through three previous crises (ransomware, hurricane, multiple site consolidations):

Don’t make the mistake of over-steering on productivity (e.g., getting through agendas, task lists). Now is an ideal time to prioritize deep care for employee and customer relationships. People need emotional support – they are worried and uncertain – at work and at home. Leaders need to slow down and set the tone – making time to keep relationships with their people front and center.

When you ask questions to open people up, you have to inquire with a way of being, a care that demonstrates your sincere interest in their reflection and sharing.

  • How are you?
  • How’s your family?
  • Are you taking care of yourself?
  • Are you in need of any resources?
  • Anything I can do to help?
  • Anything I can do to make things easier for you?

And reciprocate their vulnerability. When you share what’s going well and what’s a challenge for you/your family, you are showing your people that you share many of the concerns, needs, and challenges they do. You nurture deeper trust.

If you and your leaders prioritize these “deep bumps” during this crisis, your company will have come together in a new way that makes your relationships and organization stronger on the other side.

Tip | Amidst all the distraction, several CEOs have told me they are keeping these questions taped to their notebook or monitor to remind them to keep deep care for others front and center.

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