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How to Lead in Times of Crisis [Podcast]

Episode 101: Michael and Kathryn talk about what it means to lead in times of crisis and share how they've been caring for their team during the COVID-19 pandemic. As business leaders, you will face many levels of challenges during this season, so if you need some encouragement today, give this episode a listen.

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In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover what Michael and Kathryn are asking their team during challenging times.
  • Find out why lack of intentional rest leads to eventual burnout.
  • Learn how to use the 3 Ps in your business during a crisis (Present, Proactive, Positive)
“Take the rest that you need. Then it will be far easier for you to be resilient for the long haul with your staff, and in your personal life."
– MICHAEL K. Redman

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References:

Brendon Burchard

 

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Michael:
              Hello there and welcome to HaBO Village Podcast. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              And today's episode is being recorded in the middle of the COVID virus epidemic challenge that we have around the world. We're in Northern California and we are... Sheltering in place is probably not the best way to put it, but we are in our office. There's a very small crew here, which there is usually and we live two miles from home.


Kathryn:
               Which makes sheltering in place a little bit simpler if it goes that far.


Michael:
              A little bit easier. Plus we have a tremendous amount of square footage. So today we're just going to talk about, wow. This is quite a situation. Everybody's talking about it. We felt like we should at least speak a little bit about it and actually talk about really the angle of you are leaders in small businesses because this podcast is about helping you build Passion and Provision companies, full of profit, purpose and legacy. Legacy is remembered when there are challenging times, way more than there are good times and these are the opportunities we have to really stand out. So today I'm hoping that it's encouraging for you. It gives you a break. You get to come back and listen to this podcast and you're like, "You know what? I just need a little boost. I need a little encouragement and I need to be reminded," because quite frankly, most of the stuff that we're going to talk about today, I think you know.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. I think so too.


Michael:
              I think you just need to be reminded because we need to be a community, together, that says how do we lift up?


Kathryn:
               Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Michael:
              Kathryn?


Kathryn:
               So one of the things that is true and I know it's true for you, is my inbox has been flooded with just messages and different companies and responding, how they're responding, how they're interacting, what they're going to do for you, all of those things. And so the first thing I think I want to just say is I am hoping that as a leader, you are working on being really proactive in how you communicate with your staff and with your clients. So what is it that you're doing to ensure that, gosh, that they just know that you're there and that you're in it with them and that you're processing the journey because the thing that's really interesting about this journey, I think for all of us, is we don't know what's going to happen.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               We really don't.


Michael:
              And you know, I want to interject here real quick. I feel like we jumped right into this. I didn't want to talk about COVID today. You may not even want to hear about COVID by the time this airs and you want to hear about it anymore, so I want to apologize for that if that's just annoying or you're just starting to wear out on it. Our goal is just to be one of those people because one of the things I'm tired about already is all those emails that are talking about COVID and what I should do and how I should behave and how I should interact. And so there's just those challenges, but this is more... Today's podcast is more about leading in challenging times than it is about the COVID virus. The COVID virus right now is the current stage that we're on.


Kathryn:
               Yes.


Michael:
              And there will be-


Kathryn:
               It is not the last one, as leaders.


Michael:
              It is not the last one we'll be on. And we've seen several different ones between, over the last 10 years, 20 years. There's been a lot. And if you're going to stay in leadership and run a business, there's going to be these opportunities. So one of the things that we're going to have a chance to talk about over the next few weeks is really different ways to make our companies more resilient and our people more resilient because they will come and they're here. So I jumped in and I cut you off, but I just wanted to say that because I have somebody sitting there going, "Gosh, not another COVID podcast," or not. That's our stage, but that's not our topic.


Kathryn:
               No. The topic really is leading through crisis, leading through chaos.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               And certainly, the reality is the one that we're in feels unprecedented in terms of the global economy, the global impact.


Michael:
              At least in our generation.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. In our generation, for sure. So that is truth, but the types of emotions and insecurities and issues that will come up for your people, those are going to be things that will happen amidst any kind of crisis or chaos.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               So one of the things that you know, you probably have wrestled a little yourself, is that when there's really chaotic things that happen that you can't control, it exposes this sense of vulnerability. I have always known and you may well know already, that you really don't actually have control. It's just that we easily forget that until a crisis comes along or an event happens in our lives, personally or nationally or globally that absolutely shines a spotlight on the fact that our level of control is less than we want it to be.


Michael:
              Yeah. Because we can get to control a lot. If we're leaders we realize that we don't... we already realize we don't have the extent of control we want to have over our staff, our situations, our vendors, our customers. We'd like to dictate, at some level, all the things they do so that the chessboard is perfectly laid out for us to win, but we don't. At some level, and some of us are better at it than others of being skilled at organization, skilled at systems. There's a lot of control we can't exert that we ignore as leaders that we should have in our companies, a lot of systems and pieces and parts so things run like a smooth engine. But then you get moments like this where you realize there's no system for this. There's no method-


Kathryn:
               Oh my gosh.


Michael:
              To say, "Oh, yeah. We got this taken care of." I mean, folks, we have friends, friends and business acquaintances and peers that we know that have lost millions and millions of dollars in their budgeted revenue this year, that were supposed to happen over the next four weeks. We have one peer, his company, 50 employees, he was sharing with us last week in a small group, that they are losing half a million dollars. Just they expected half a million dollars of revenue for their annual budget to show up next week. And that whole event got canceled in San Diego. We have friends of ours that run that, 10,000 people were supposed to show up. Imagine that if one group is going to lose half a million dollars from that, what does it look like when you're the ones putting on the whole event and running it? How much does that go to your bottom line. We're talking millions.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. And for all of you, I would imagine that you have the opportunity, as we do, because you're a leader to be interacting with other leaders during this time. So yesterday I had conversations with somebody who runs a company of a thousand people. I had a conversation with somebody who's running a company of 200 people. And I had a conversation with my local coffee shop couple who are there alone in their coffee shop with no employees because they needed to send everybody home and they're keeping the doors open just for walk-in traffic. And really, the sensitivity to the different circumstances that people find themselves in is really interesting in the season.


Michael:
              Yeah. And our local coffee shop folks, they have two places in town. They have the Roastery.


Kathryn:
               And then the restaurant.


Michael:
              And then the restaurant.


Kathryn:
               And they had to close the restaurant.


Michael:
              And they probably have 25 employees. And the stories already are on and on of just the challenges of how this all ripples through. So you're not immune to it and maybe some of you might be. It'd be great if you were in an immune industry. I would love to hear about that. Our friends in law enforcement, they are not shy on work at the moment.


Kathryn:
               Our friends in hospitals, also, seem to be able to stay busy.


Michael:
              Absolutely. So part of this is, okay, let's set the scene a little bit. Kathryn, I think you wanted to read this?


Kathryn:
               I could read this. I just thought this was really well done. So there's a guy in our world, in our marketing world, named Brendon Burchard.


Michael:
              Yeah. He's in the online education business building space.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. And so he sent out an email that one of my staff forwarded to me, that I just thought was really well done. He titled it, Chaos Makes Us Feel Fragile, But... So let me just read this to you and then we can kind of dialogue through it because I really liked it.


Kathryn:
               So he said, "So that's the thing about this pandemic, right? It makes us recognize our human fragility. All the nerves and stress so many are feeling right now, unsettled, fearful, anxious. So much of that is the result of our human response to chaos, which fundamentally makes us recognize our own vulnerability in the world. Chaos strikes. Suddenly we realize we are more fragile than we thought, more exposed, unsafe, less in control than we thought. The spiral begins hard for those unaccustomed to chaos. But something else is revealed, strength and steadiness for those who've spent their lives doing hard things, setting impossible goals and fighting hard for them, stretching themselves to grow and lead and care for others and share their truth over and over again. Because the more you've sought self improvement in the past, the more you inevitably have faced the chaos."


Kathryn:
               "The more you've chosen to be the role model, to set your own emotional tone during the crisis and to demonstrate good habits and leadership. Finding strength through chaos is not new to you, not this community. You actually willingly opened the door to chaos when you maybe quit a bad job or left a bad relationship, started a side hustle, had children, spoke up, pushed through those brutal workouts, had difficult conversations, hired people, tried new things with zero promise they would turn out."


Kathryn:
               "There is chaos in the world right now and yet those who have worked on themselves, those who dedicated themselves to real personal development, well, they are facing it differently, defining it differently, leading through it differently. Now I'm not saying that we've not been worried. I'm not saying anyone is perfect or anyone is weak. And I'm not saying we aren't all recalibrating reality in our plans and identities, but I am saying thank God for this community, where we've spent years together doing hard things, willingly thrusting ourselves into the unknown, out beyond our comfort zone, out there into the vastness and down there into the abyss. And we did it over and over and over again. For those dedicated to growth and leadership and real contribution in the world, chaos is not something new."


Kathryn:
               And then it goes on to a bunch of stuff that's super specific for his group, but I just loved that.


Michael:
              What is it about it that you loved?


Kathryn:
               I think that there's a revelation that just in it of just the way he worded it, of saying, "You know what? If you're running a business, you have embrace chaos."


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               Right? You have stepped into the unknown. You have taken risks. You have felt out of control. All of these things and even if it's choosing to become a parent. I mean, there's all of these things that we have done over and over and over again, that prepare us to lead well through challenging times. And because we're speaking to leaders, because you guys out there are men and women who are leading companies, who have taken on roles, that mean if you're any good at it, you've already embraced chaos on a number of levels. Even just the line where he talked about hiring people, taking risks and launching new projects when you had no knowledge if they would really succeed.


Kathryn:
               All of those choices build resilience. They build character. They build the ability to go, "You know what? I survived that and I didn't know how it was going to turn out. Therefore, I can survive this. I figured that out. We'll figure this out." And it gives you that sense of, "Yeah. We're going to be able to press on." I mean for us, we have a huge resilience, I think, built into the fact that we walk this out in faith. Right?


Michael:
              Right.


Kathryn:
               So I had another friend who sent a bunch of just reminder, really good, encouraging verses out. And I added a few of my own to that and sent it to our staff because they're just very helpful reminders to build in that sense of it's going to be okay. We're going to figure this out.


Michael:
              Yeah. I think the idea that we can build in resilience, whether you have a faith or not.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, definitely.


Michael:
              Whether that's going on or not as leaders, there's probably a few things that we want to talk about, right now, in the next few minutes that we've got, about some things that you could actually do. I'm going to talk to you. I want to talk about some things that we've done, some things that we've seen and how do we give you some ideas on what to think about. Some of these things you may have done already. Some of them you may not have done. They may be new to you.


Michael:
              I'll tell you what the first thing we're doing right now is we're paying attention to the mental health of our team. I'm really keying in. I want to see what's going on in their stress level. I want to see their fear level. I don't want to turn it into a counseling session at work, that's not helpful for anybody at the moment. It may be that there'll be times when somebody needs just an ear and they need to just talk and talk through some things and that will help them feel better. But listening to your team, telling... I mean, if your team is small enough that you do it all yourself, if your team's bigger, work with your direct reports. Coach them through this and model it for them. And then encourage them to sit down with their team and just check in.


Michael:
              So we were gone last week, on the road, when things started escalating and we were talking to our team, but everybody was fine. Nobody was really super stressed out, but it's continued to change. We went into a National Emergency and lots of different things started happening on the news that were escalating. So when we got back to the office and Monday we were first in, we just started, at staff meeting, we just said, "Okay. How's everybody doing? Let's take a temperature." And then I started-


Kathryn:
               Sorry. See what you did there, everybody had one.


Michael:
              And let's just see how everybody's doing and how do they feel. Does everybody feel healthy? That was an obvious. And then how's everybody feeling emotionally? Are you concerned? Do we need to go to working from home? Not all of our listeners can do that, some of them can because of what they can do. If you're working on remodeling vans and automobiles and all that kind of stuff like one of our clients-


Kathryn:
               Yeah. They don't get to go home.


Michael:
              You don't, I mean, hey... Well you may get to go home.


Kathryn:
               You may get to if you're shut down.


Michael:
              Business stops.


Kathryn:
               But yes, you don't get to work from home particularly.


Michael:
              Right? You can't do that. I can't take a van home and do your welding.


Kathryn:
               No.


Michael:
              In most parts. So there's those situations. Take your temperature of your team. Figure out where they are. We're doing daily touchpoints right now and I'm looking for listening to what they have to say, how they're saying it, the stress level they're having. Driving even to work today, I noticed that there are people that are so preoccupied and we just went through, in our area, natural disaster, 14 months ago, 15 months ago.


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              So I am already keyed into some of the signs. So I'm pulling up to a four way stop sign, I park, or I stop, this gentleman comes up to the stop sign. He stops. I start to pull forward because it's my turn and all of a sudden I realize he starts to edge forward through it and he's going to take a left turn as I'm going straight through the intersection. And I'm watching him the entire time. Folks, there's no other cars in this intersection or on these streets. We're in a neighborhood. He doesn't look at me. He doesn't see me. He just continue to drive through and turn-


Kathryn:
               Yeah. As though you're not even there, like oblivious.


Michael:
              As though I'm not even there. And I'm like, I finally had to stop the car about four feet from his car because he was going to run into me.


Kathryn:
               Did he notice you then?


Michael:
              He didn't.


Kathryn:
               Wow.


Michael:
              And so what you've got is you've got people who are just, this kind of thing happens, they are preoccupied. There's a lot of stuff on their mind. They're having trouble focusing. So we've got situations where the society itself is nervous. So pay attention to your team. That's one.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. And I would say, I mean, all of that kind of wraps under the umbrella of what I would call be very present during this time. Just be present, right? Be aware of what's in front of you. Be watching interactions, whether you're doing Zoom calls, whether you're online with people, be listening and asking. Take the extra time.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               To be very, very present because people's fears and challenges, they're very real and this is our chance to lead well, to be really, really human-


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               In the middle of this. And to recognize that some of the things that we're dealing with are very different than some of the things that other people are dealing with and we want to be super present and aware of their vulnerabilities and their concerns.


Michael:
              Yeah, absolutely. So I think that whole process of just thinking, talking, looking. So we're talking about employees at the moment or I'm talking about employees at the moment. I think the next thing is thinking about customers, vendors, anything like that. As a leader, you really have a responsibility to make sure that you're watching the tone of your entire company. And with your company, moving forward, some simple things are just shooting off a couple of quick emails to folks. "How are you doing? I just want to check in. Is there anything I can do to help?"


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              Really short stuff. I shot one off to a CEO, that's a client of ours, yesterday. And when I got back this morning when he got into the office early and started working, was really a, "I'm doing okay, but here's the real deal." There was a deep opening of what he was thinking and feeling, realizing he knows that he's a man of faith, has a strong background in that and realizes that God's loving and kind and things are going to be fine. At some level, we're all going to deal with it because we all went through a major tragedy 14 months ago, here, and he's in that process.


Michael:
              Well, he is paying attention and having a hard time. He was sharing it and being vulnerable. That said, it was a moment where you could listen to somebody and they know you care because in places like this stress, it's where you stand out the most of how you respond to people because we remember it. We think about these things. So that's another thought, of just checking in with people and seeing where they are and how they're doing.


Kathryn:
               Well and to be able to do things where, like Michael was just saying, personally, not just in a mass email. So if you have the opportunity, especially for people that are leading the companies, the more you can touch them kind of one-on-one, because they're getting lots of mass emails. But to be reached out to, leader to leader, to say, "Hey, how are you holding up? What can we do to support you?" Those things, I think, are really valuable.


Michael:
              Yeah. I think they are. It's amazing, even for us, thinking about things and paying attention to things and for me, losing some of my thought process. I want to just encourage you all. This is our opportunity. It's one of those opportunities to shine. The biggest thing I want to leave you with is, make sure you're doing some of your own mental health.


Michael:
              At a time like this, leaders can, especially really good leaders, we can get involved in so taking care of everybody else that we forget to do what we need to do to take care of ourselves. To take care of ourselves and the small community around us, our family, our marriages, our kids, those types of things. And we've got to make sure that we don't ever say, in most cases, it's never severe enough to say, "I shouldn't sleep." It's never severe enough to say, "I shouldn't make sure I'm eating right or taking care of myself," and doing it because quite frankly, if you push yourself too far, too hard, too long, we've seen it in all kinds of leaders.


Michael:
              You go to a place where you get into complete exhaustion and you cannot land, manage the long haul no matter what. And we've seen leaders go through major situations where they don't have balance. They believe that they can't stop. They keep moving forward. The event is over and they're like, "Okay. Now I need to rest," but they don't rest and they don't choose that and then the next event comes along and it just builds on top of itself. And we've got a few leaders that are friends of ours in our lives that are probably in third stage...


Kathryn:
               Burnout.


Michael:
              Burnout.


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              Because of it. And it's a personal choice that you have to make to say you can't do everything and there's only so much you can do. If you make sure you can do that and take those little pieces now, the rest and everything else that you need, then it will be far easier for you to be resilient and have the long haul with your staff, your team, your personal life and everything else. Anything else you want to share today, Kathryn?


Kathryn:
               I don't think so. I mean, as I was thinking about our people, I was just thinking about kind of three P's and everybody's got an acronym and I'm a preacher by nature, so I'll just do my three P's. So the first one we already talked about, which is, be present. Be proactive, which we've also mentioned. Just reach out to people, engage, that kind of thing. And then as much as possible, be positive, you set the tone for your company, your clients. So in inasmuch it's up to you, just encourage people. Be positive. So those are my three.


Michael:
              Good. All right. Well folks, we know you need to get back to work. We know you've got lots of different things going on or whatever. We really appreciate you taking the time to listen to this podcast and our goal is to continue to help you build companies that a Passion and Provision, full of profit, purpose and legacy, in your own personal life and in your company. And to be able to create an environment as a leader for all of those that work with you and work for you, to create that opportunity for them. So we just want to say thank you, well done. Keep up the good work. Keep going. And from Kathryn and I here at Half a Bubble Out, this is the HaBO Village Podcast. Have a great day.


Kathryn:
               Bye.