By Marion Weiler
Often, when in crisis, we ask ourselves, "why me?" or "why now?" But perhaps the question should be "why not me?" "Why me?" puts us in the position of being a victim, and more often than not, it prohibits us from moving forward in a constructive way. On the contrary, "Why not me?" empowers us to identify new avenues for growth and the opportunity to have a positive impact on others.
Dealing with a crisis affecting people and economies on a global scale, the world needs leaders now more than ever before. As a business owner or member of the executive team, how do you effectively lead through crisis and ultimately rise up as the leader your team, your agents, your clients and your community need you to be? Here are several things to concentrate on:
Focus on leadership and the things you can control
When crisis strikes, perhaps more than anything, people look for hope. As a leader, you're a role model for others, and what you do, don't do and how you act during a difficult moment will determine if people are inspired to follow you and trust in your ability to lead. Authentically caring about your team, agents and clients will bring hope during a time that is dominated by the anxiety and fear of losing the means to livelihood.
While leaders don't necessarily have all the answers, some of the most powerful traits of a true leader are awareness, anticipation and agility. Having the vision to see the full picture, being intuitive about what's to come and how to pivot, as well as being willing to change direction even when afraid—all while staying optimistic and level-headed—differentiates true leaders from those who exhibit authority based on title.
As the old saying goes, "Where there is crisis, there is also opportunity." Ask yourself, what good can come out of this? How can I embrace technology, and what is best for the people I serve? Putting people first and helping them get back on track when facing a new reality—by working from home, juggling work while teaching their children or taking care of others—shows that you care, and strengthens the relationship critical for sustainable success.
Take charge of your finances
It's all too easy to give in to sweeping things under the rug and avoid dealing with the difficult realities. However, experience shows that challenges rarely disappear on their own; problems amplify when left undealt with. Now is the time to look reality in the eye and take inventory of your finances.
- What is the true picture of your expenses and your income, liabilities or assets?
- What is left once you project and get a clear picture of your financial situation?
While what you find might be unsettling, it's the beginning step of being able to address the unique situation you are faced with.
From here, you're in a better position to determine the level of cost cutting that's necessary to sustain your business. Look for non-critical expenses, or those that minimally affect your business. For example, consider initiatives or campaigns that were poorly executed and had little positive impact on your business or existing subscriptions and memberships that can be paused or halted. It is also a perfect time to renegotiate, refinance or adjust retainers or payments where applicable for financial relief.
Once you shed light on your existing expenses, look for opportunities to create additional revenue streams, or adjust how you deliver your services. Ask yourself the following:
- How can you deliver the services remotely?
- What partners do you have in place (or available to reach out to for help) to set you up for continued success?
History shows that the firms and brokerages that are agile and pivot their strategies while keeping their teams focused and productive will have an advantage over others—and will likely come out stronger on the other end.
Plan ahead and optimize your organizational structure
Rather than getting caught in the moment, start planning for the future when business comes back. By identifying what's critically important to your success, you have a basis to determine what to focus time, energy and resources on.
How is your firm or brokerage currently set up, and what's the level of operational effectiveness? How does your organizational structure align with internal factors such as needs, expectations and company goals, as well as external factors such as market conditions, economy and competition? You might be surprised by what you find, but again, it's a starting point to build upon and set the sails to relevance and sustainable business success.
Based on your findings, determine effective marketing solutions and optimize marketing operations. It's no secret that digital solutions and virtual tools have not only become more important, but are also critical for keeping business going during these times. What do you do if you don't have the know-how or resources you need? Look outside the box and reach out to strategic partners you can team up with to get support where needed to fill the gaps.
After all is said and done, it's important to remember that leading through crisis is about humility. The goal is not to be the person who has all the answers and is right at all times, but to find the answer that is right while putting people right in the middle of every decision you make.
Marion Weiler is a Senior Business Management & Marketing Executive, a Fractional CMO and the Founder of Weiler International, advising broker owners and executive teams to be more effective and relevant by elevating leadership skills, identifying opportunities for growth as well as cost efficiencies and eliminating redundancies. As a former Senior Executive of world- renowned, industry-leading global firms, Weiler has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities businesses face in an ever-changing world, particularly in the real estate and construction industries. Her approach was perhaps best described by one client as providing “Feng Shui for businesses.”