“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”-John Maxwell

Rich and I have been processing how we can be of service during the changing business and economic environment the COVID-19 virus is creating.

What support do our clients need?

What support does the business community need?

What support do employers need for their employees?

No matter what your personal risk tolerance is or your beliefs on the impacts of the COVID-19 virus, the local and global communities are in a reactive state. Emotions are high and decision fatigue/paralysis is approaching.

Business owners don’t have the luxury of putting their heads in the sand.

They have the health and wellness to consider for themselves, their own immediate family and networks, plus a responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees and clients. Not to mention, the financial fears and uncertainty of what’s to come for small businesses in the coming months.

We see you, small business owners.

Protective of your community and employees but also loyal to the dream that started the company in the beginning. We see the internal conflict of making “the right” proactive vs reactive decisions.

You’re not alone!

Our small business clients have been reaching out with the same fears and questions. But, there’s another perspective we would like to introduce.

We’ve been asking our clients:

How can you find opportunities for growth in all this?

How can you adapt your systems to be stronger and more efficient?

How can you lean on the leadership skills you’ve been cultivating to serve your clients better?

How can a situation like this build resilience within your business and team members?

Opportunity comes in many different forms and now is the time to step into possibility and be ready to move with what’s coming instead of against it. That is true leadership. 

Here are just some of the ways that you can step into leadership thinking while dealing with the potential impacts of COVID-19 on your business environment.

1. Confidently practice extreme self-care.

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to actively take care of yourself first. It’s the “put on your own mask first” analogy in full effect.

This means allowing yourself space to process emotions, fears, and anxieties so that you can clear your mind for decision making and problem-solving.

This might mean taking additional breaks, eating healthy, and/or adding supportive supplements to manage stress levels. Calling your business coach to process emotions and create strategies on how to move through this.

We offer “SOS calls” to our clients for exactly this reason. You’re not alone. Lean on your support systems and your network.

2. Create a leadership vision and communicate.

In times of crisis, every person needs to hear from their leaders to calm their nerves and give reassurance of the path forward.

If you’re a business owner, your staff and clients are looking for leadership from you. You need to step up.

To step up, you’ll want to make a solid assessment of your specific situation and then give everyone on your team a clear and simple vision of what the team will be focussed on.

Make sure to have no more than 3 simple steps that you are planning to implement and let them know what conditions will trigger the steps if necessary. That way, they will feel like you have a solid plan that will keep the business moving.

Then develop a plan that you can communicate to your clients on how you will be rising to the challenge and still providing great service to them.

3. Create a psychologically safe environment for your employees to deal with stress and uncertainty.

This may include involving your team members in decision making around office closures, getting feedback on the potential impacts on their job roles and lives when considering a work from home policy.

We have introduced many of our business growth coaching clients to the concept of “clearing” out the emotions around COVID-19. This creates a structured environment for the team to vent out their thoughts, emotions, and fears using “I” statements.

The intended effect is to acknowledge how people are feeling in the moment so that we can move on to a solution-based approach.

4. Leveraging systems and technology for a more adaptive environment.

This is a great opportunity to evaluate what systems you are using in your business and how they support a transition to working from home.

There are many great platforms, many of which are free or low cost, that will make this time much easier to manage. For example:

When evaluating introducing a new system or software to support you make sure to consider the learning curve, setup time, and impacts on clients.

5. Clearly define and update your expectations of employee communication and performance.

As many businesses transition to a period of working from home, it’s important to not assume that employees understand how to effectively do this without it having a dramatic impact on results, accountability, and performance.

We encourage you to outline some of the following:

  • when/ how you will check in on a daily basis,
  • what is expected of the team member around maintaining professionalism,
  • how will you all work to manage distractions in a home environment (ie: additional family members in the house, pets, children),
  • how do you want to communicate with clients, and
  • what are the expectations?

Transparency is important in times like these.

6. Leverage trusted sources of information when making decisions.

For us at Stoke Growth, this means a commitment to only gathering information and updates from trusted sources such as the World Health Organization, and our provincial and federal health services.

This could also mean leveraging subject matter experts in areas such as lawyers and human resources consultants. We refer our clients to these types of experts so that they can be confident in their decision making.

There’s lots of information out there and we encourage you to filter out as much of the amplified information as possible so that you can keep your head clear for better decision making.

Both Rich and I believe that there is a path through this.

Our hope is that we can be a supportive space for small business owners to deal with the uncertainty that the COVID-19 virus while also advocating for the opportunities that bring business growth.

With this in mind, we would like to offer a free 30-minute consultation call with anyone that needs support in processing and strategizing around the impacts that the virus will have on your business and/or employees.

Your time with us could be spent processing fears and emotions, building strategies, or providing feedback on decisions.

It’s your business. You’re the boss. You’ll find no “one-size-fits-all” approaches here.

You can book a time that works best for you here.

Also, follow us on social media for updates on public online sessions for business owners and managers that we’ll be holding in the coming weeks.


Phalan Grof

President and Leadership Coach

Stoke Growth Inc.

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