For Hispanic Heritage Month, leadership experts explore creative ways that business owners can meet today’s most critical challenges.
In times of crisis, your leadership is even more critical to your company’s success.
That’s according to the small-business advocates on Wednesday’s Hispanic Small Business Town Hall. The session, which focused on the topic of leadership, was the third in a series of streaming events hosted by Inc. and Hello Alice during Hispanic Heritage Month. The event was moderated by Hello Alice CEO and co-founder Carolyn Rodz.
Here are three things the panelists say you should do while leading your team during the pandemic.
1. Be empathetic.
“Good leaders in crisis recognize what their workforce is going through,” says Moe Vela, CEO of consulting firm MoeVela, LLC, and an adviser in the Clinton and Obama White House. Those leaders empathize with their employees: They listen and gain an understanding of their needs, then take steps to address their anxieties. Some of the businesses Vela has been working with during the pandemic, for example, have started offering therapy as a benefit for their employees.
“A good leader in crisis understands the soulful humanistic aspect of what their employees are going through,” he says. “As a leader, I owe it to them to come up with solutions that will bring them solace and comfort and confidence that we are going to survive this.”
2. Follow through on your promises.
Talking is one thing, but actions are another, says Mark Madrid, CEO of the nonprofit Latino Business Action Network (LBAN). Following through on promises, he says, is especially important during times of crisis, when employees look to you for cues and customers are extra tuned into your actions–something that’s easy for them to do in the age of social media.
“There are people watching you, who you might not even realize are looking up to you,” says Madrid. “So it’s really important that if you put something out there, you deliver on it, especially right now.”
3. Find new ways to manage your relationships.
No matter what your industry, remember that you’re in the people business, says Ramiro Cavazos, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Your relationships–with employees, partners, clients, and vendors–are the keys to your business’s success. And while that hasn’t changed, the ways you need to communicate likely have. As such, Cavazos says, business owners need to maximize their use of technology to nurture their relationships. That might mean reaching out to employees via Slack or email, or building online platforms to chat with customers.
“It all gets back to relationships. How do we service and get people what they need?” says Cavazos. “We can’t follow the path that we took before. Were going to have to look at the world differently because the world has changed for us.”