Ep #63: Crisis Leadership

 In Podcast

Crisis leadership is about being an exceptional leader. People have mistaken effective leaders for somebody who can make a lot of money or come up with products. Real leaders have invested in learning how to lead and are the ones who are able to rebound and pivot during times like these.

What you’ll find in this episode:


  1. Are the ones who are able to rebound and pivot.
  2. Have learned how to establish and communicate a clear vision.
  3. Know how to communicate and hire and fire by values.
  4. Have learned how to set, clarify and communicate expectations for performance.
  5. Know how to have difficult conversations.
  6. Are able to help people and have empathy while still holding accountability and expectations for performance.
  7. Have learned how to manage their own minds so they don’t get swept up in hysteria, overwhelm or confusion.
  8. Have to have work and rest hours.

Featured on the Show and Other Notes:

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Podcast Transcript

Hey, I’m Kris Plachy, host of the Lead Your Team podcast.

Running a million-dollar business is not easy. And whether you’re just getting started with building your team or you’ve been at this for a while, I’m going to bring you honest, specific and clear practices you can use right now, today, to improve how well you lead your team. Let’s go ahead and get started.

Hello my friends. How are you? Welcome, welcome to this episode of the podcast. I’m so glad to have an opportunity to chat with you. I want to talk about crisis leadership. I’ve had the incredible opportunity of working with so many entrepreneurs over the past four weeks as they’ve been negotiating such a critical time in their business, in our economy and just in our overall global community. And the majority of my clients are public facing brick and mortar, female owned businesses.

The first thing I want to say is the rally that I have witnessed is such a testimony to the entrepreneurial spirit. I at least knew that I loved people who had their own businesses, and I’ve always thought being an entrepreneur was such a meaningful role in life to decide to do a thing in the world and get after it and make it happen with persistence and resilience and all those things. But to really see the level of that in action over the past several weeks has just certainly reaffirmed all of my own personal beliefs and also just made me so very proud of who I get to work with every day. And so anyway, for that, I just wanted to share that.

As a woman who’s studied leadership forever, I’ve worked in the space of leadership for over 25 years now, and I have taught leadership and trained leadership and been in leadership and coached leaders of all kinds. I want to talk about crisis leadership because I know it’s a class you can take. I know that there are levels of expertise in crisis leadership, I certainly know plenty about change management and how change infiltrates and changes or affects a business, let alone a human mind. But I want to really emphasize that the people who we’re seeing thrive right now, who run their own businesses are not exceptional crisis leaders. They are exceptional leaders. They are people who have invested in learning how to lead. And in a time when… It’s like my former client and friend Kara Loewentheil says, she calls them the before days. I thought that was super cute.

I think in the before days before this pandemic affected so many of us, I do believe there’s been some arrogance in what leadership is. And I don’t mean that word to be judgy, I’m not trying to be judgy with that word. I just mean I think a lot of people have mistaken effective leadership for somebody who can make a lot of money, somebody who’s really good at revenue and/or somebody who’s really great at coming up with products and innovation. And I don’t know that that always lends itself to somebody who’s also a great leader. Now, I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive, but I do think that we have to know how to do both if we want to have a sustainable business.

And so I have a program with the Founders Lab, and I’ve been coaching leaders for my whole business since I’ve been in business now almost eight years. And I can tell you that the leaders that I know, that I have worked with, that I have worked with as colleagues and also as clients are the leaders who are able to rebound and be resilient and pivot. And I’m watching all of my clients do the exact same thing. And I believe that is because they have learned how to lead. They have taken the marketing classes, they’ve learned how to build systems in their company in terms of IT. They’ve learned how to build systems to attract and acquire new clients. They’ve learned all those things and they’ve learned how to establish and communicate a clear vision. They’ve learned how to establish and communicate and hire and fire by values.

They’ve learned how to set and clarify and communicate expectations for performance. They’ve learned how to have difficult conversations how many difficult conversations have you had to have in the last four weeks? They’ve learned how to help people and have empathy while still holding accountability and expectations for performance. They’ve learned how to manage their own minds so that they don’t get swept up in hysteria or overwhelm or confusion. And I think mostly they’ve learned how to trust their own decision making in a time when there were no clear right answers.

So leadership to me is not something that you are born with. I don’t think people are born great leaders. I think some people are born with great skillsets that can lend themselves to leadership. But I think the mechanics of leading is formulaic. And I think that everybody needs to be taught and trained and then have the reinforcement process of practicing well to be good at something, which in this case we’re talking about leading.

And so again, I don’t think this is about people who are good at leading through a crisis, that some people somehow have a stronger spirit or more resilient. I think this is generally about people who have a framework for how well they can lead. And so I’m more committed than even before the before days, to help you and other leaders learn how to do these things because I know it’s what makes the difference.

My clients are working really hard, in those first two weeks they were working really hard, including me, I worked 14 days in a row when that all started. But now they’re not. They haven’t… Because the tendency is to go back to what you’re good at as an entrepreneur and hustle and work your you know what off and never stop. That’s not going to get you sustainable results. It didn’t get you sustainable results before.

We don’t need a bunch of entrepreneurs who are exhausted. We need entrepreneurs who can think, be strategic, make a weekly plan, because that’s about where we are right now, it’s at triage level. We’re not at strategic planning. We’re at triage planning weekly. Execute that plan and be able to be nimble in their decision making because decisions are coming at you still regularly, but you also have to have work hours, you have to have rest hours, conscious rest, intentional rest. It will be okay, but we can’t have you be exhausted. We need your mind to work.

So when I know when there’s entrepreneurs who haven’t done a lot of that investment in their leadership skill, because I can see them, they’re exhausted. I just started my Q2 pivot program and the first lesson we taught was leadership stamina. Do you have leadership stamina? Which is really a combination of mental and emotional toughness that allows you to navigate very difficult moments persistently without taxing yourself. Because what I’ve said to my clients all along, it’s we want to get to the end of this thing or the new beginning, I guess is a better way to say that whatever’s coming on the other end, with the business and with you healthy. So that’s strategic in the way that you think about that. So that’s just one example, but I can always kind of tell when somebody is just really white knuckling their way through it. It’s because they’re not leading in a way that I think has got legs to it.

And so I just am so committed to, I really want you to hear me. You don’t need other skills to figure out how to manage in a crisis. You just need the framework of what is fundamental leadership. And the first thing is your vision. Do you know where you’re going? Do you know what you’re creating right now? What is your compelling reason for doing what you do? When you have your values in place, you’ve set up the filters for all of the decisions that you make because some businesses are staying open, some businesses are closing, some businesses are going to reopen, some businesses have employees who don’t want to come back, how are you processing that if you don’t have clear values in place? You haven’t built a rudder to help keep this ship balanced.

I am such an advocate for small business. I know that our small businesses succeed, the economy will succeed. So I can’t think of another time when it is better for you to be investing in your business leadership acumen. If it’s not something you’ve done in the past, now is the time to do it. This is the best investment you could be making in your business right now, is you getting better, sharper, more clear. You have more tough decisions coming y’all.

I was just talking to a client and we’re like, “I feel like we’re in a little bit of a lull.” There’s more coming and that’s not to me negative, I just know there’s going to be more significant decisions. Once we open back up, it’s like Mark Cuban says, yeah, I heard him on a podcast recently and he talked about when we opened back up, it’s America 2.0. And if you haven’t become an entrepreneur who’s ready for America 2.0, your business will not thrive. And that’s not just about revenue, that’s really looking at what are the leadership skills you’re going to need in America 2.0 to take this thing going forward, or Canada 2.0 or Australia 2.0 or England 2.0, wherever you are in the world. I don’t want to be too myopic on my thinking. You’re all everywhere. Everybody’s, everybody. You guys, everybody’s trying to figure this out. Never in our lives have we been in the circumstance before. And never, I believe in your life you ever had such an opportunity to rise to a challenge, but if you need the skills to do it, you’ve got to get going on it.

And of course, I think that means you should work with me, but I know not everybody will work with me. And I honestly don’t care if everybody works with me. I just want everyone who leads a business to be good at leading. Your people need you, your business needs you, your family needs you and you need you to have the skill sets so that you’re not so depleted. This is the time to do that.

So I just started a Q2 pivot program because I think quarter two is going to be the groundwork for the rest of the year and everyone who’s in my Founder’s Lab is getting access to the Q2 pivot. So if you’re looking for support and you know you’re ready to invest in yourself, you’re not going to feel guilty about it, you know that investing in you means you’re investing in your company, then we for sure should get going in the Founders Lab, no question about it.

So many of my clients in the past have said, “Well, I’m so busy, I don’t have time.” You don’t not have time to invest in you right now. If you’re the entrepreneur, you’re the head of the business, this is where you need to spend your time. Can you set your vision? Do you have one? Do you have your values? Do you have expectations? Do you have job descriptions, you guys? Does everyone in your company have a role? Do you know what to do if somebody in your company goes down? Isn’t working anymore? If you have to lay people off, do you have systems? Do you know how to get things done in your business? If you abdicated that to the point you don’t even know how to do things. Do you know how to have difficult conversations?

I’m recommending all of my clients need to do a thorough review of their current employees like does everybody need to come back? And how are you going to make those decisions? Do you know what your money situation is? Are you paying attention? All of my clients did a worst case scenario. They all hated me for it, but you know what? Then once we looked at it, they didn’t have to dwell on it. They knew they could handle whatever that worst case was because they planned for it.

You’ve got to step up. It’s time to lead. I’ve been saying that for five weeks, but if you need help knowing how to do that, then it could be done, and it could be done pretty quickly. So I’m inviting you to check out the Founders Lab and join me in there. Just go to krisplachy-/join. It’s krisplachy-/join, and let’s meet. Let’s talk about working together in the Founders Lab. I’m super excited to do what I can to help you, but more importantly, I want to really urge you to believe in yourself and know that you are worth this investment at this time, in this moment, because if you run a business, this is your moment. And I want to see you this time next year, thriving. Let’s get it. Let’s go. Thanks for tuning in.

Hey there gorgeous. Are you ready to take everything I teach you in this podcast and put it to work in your business and really learn how to master leading your team? If so, I’d love to have you as a client in the Founders Lab to learn more about how we can work together. Head on over to krisplachy-/join. There, you’ll see everything you need to know about the Founders Lab and how to get started. See you there.

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